Cornell, dir., Virginia Youth Violence Project
Report Outlines Ways To Prevent Juvenile Violence
19, 1999 -- The potential for
youth violence in Virginia can be reduced dramatically by standardizing
intervention programs for students and juvenile offenders and sharing
information aout services, according to a new statewide report.
for the Center for Injury and Violence Prevention in the Virginia
Department of Health, the report calls for a systematic and coordinated
statewide effort to implement programs found effective in reducing
youth violence, such as mentoring, bullying-reduction campaigns
and conflict-resolution training. The report was prepared by faculty
in the Virginia Youth Violence Project at the University of Virginias
Curry School of Education
who completed an assessment of violence-prevention programs
U.Va. researchers found that although there is a variety of violence-prevention
services and programs available throughout the state, there is little
shared information about the effectiveness of such efforts. Even
within state government, services in one department are often unknown
to others in different divisions, say the researchers in the 130-page
report titled "Youth Violence Prevention in Virginia: A Needs
increase knowledge, the researchers propose regular meetings of
directors of programs addressing youth violence. Such meetings would
promote coordinated planning and joint program efforts, they say.
state could establish a central clearinghouse for planning and coordinating
youth violence-prevention efforts," said Dewey G. Cornell,
director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project. "There should
be efforts, for example, to create an inter-agency group linking
the Departments of Education, Criminal Justice Services, Juvenile
Justice, Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Substance Abuse Services
and Social Services together."
providers of services should also meet regularly to exchange information
and to learn the extent of youth violence in their communities,
the researchers note.
report emphasizes the need for more timely release of annual school
safety statistics by the state Department of Education. Such information
is released nearly two years after the incidents occur.
researchers call for statewide training of school administrators
on how to collect and report data reflecting school violence. They
also recommend training on how to use such information to improve
other states, Virginia has no statewide method for tracking the
extent of alcohol and drug use among youth, the researchers note.
The report calls for additional legislation to broaden information-sharing
among schools, courts and law enforcement agencies.
there are numerous programs statewide that seek to reduce youth
violence, many such efforts have no proven track record or firm
evaluative procedures, the researchers found. Programs appear to
be chosen because of cost, political popularity or philosophical
appeal rather than documented effectiveness.
there are now programs that have been found widely effective in
reducing the potential for youth violence. The researchers call
for the adoption of such programs, which include mentoring, bullying
-- reduction campaigns, conflict resolution and after-school supervision.
The report proposes implementing such programs at schools, in churches
or through private non-profit agencies such as the YMCA and the
Boys & Girls Clubs.
the most clearly identifiable group of youth likely to commit violent
crimes are those who have been recognized by juvenile authorities
as delinquents, the report recommends implementing violence-prevention
programs for the thousands of youth incarcerated yearly in Virginias
18 detention centers. The researchers note an urgent need for providing
those youth such services as job training, substance abuse counseling,
mentoring and parent education.
the most important message in the report is that there are effective
means of preventing or reducing youth violence, but such programs
must be held accountable for documenting their quality and effectiveness,"
limited number of free copies of the report can be obtained by contacting
the Virginia Department of Health at (804) 225-4483. After that
supply runs out, copies of the report can be purchased for $10 from
the Virginia Youth Violence Project at (804) 924-8929.
For more information, contact Dewey Cornell at (804) 924-0793
or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857.