Violence prevention plan kicks off

July 3, 2008 7:15:30 PM PDT
San Francisco announced a new violence prevention plan designed to keep the peace on the streets during the long summer months and beyond. City officials say there is something different about this latest approach.

San Francisco spends $70 million a year on programs designed to curb violence. Year after year city agencies and community groups come up with various plans. According to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a new strategy unveiled Thursday puts everyone on the same page.

"Shifting the emphasis away from an exclusive law enforcement approach to dealing with crime and violence and investing where we must in prevention," said Mayor Newsom.

The latest plan is based on a concept called "Alive and Free" which will be the subject of a public education campaign aimed at teenagers. It will also appear on billboards and the internet.

It's based on the philosophy of the nationally recognized Omega Boys Club, which treats violence from a health perspective.

"If you have the flu or an incurable disease, you're not a bad person. Right now all our young people are being labeled as bad people and they begin to live up or down according to that label," said Joe Marshall, from the Omega Boys Club.

This is an example of the kind of program the city is funding to try to help stem violence.

Changing the Odds is run by the District Attorney's Office and provides life skills training and summer employment to kids who've had contact with the juvenile justice system. Experts agree that jobs play a key role in reducing violence.

That's why teenagers at this conflict resolution program in the city's Western Addition personally approached the mayor at an event a few weeks ago asking for jobs.

"It's very important because out here, there's nothing else to do in this community. I'm trying to stay focused," said Duane Blazer, a job seeker.

"We've got another 20-25 kids who need jobs. Three people have been employed off this list," said James Hooker, a C.R.E.E.S. Project.

The mayor says his administration has added 800 jobs this year for at-risk youth. And says those teenagers and many others are in the pipeline under this new violence prevention plan.

Alive and Free:
www.stayaliveandfree.org


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