Friday, August 01, 2008

Pitt holds seminar on youth violence

Pitt holds seminar on youth violenceYouth input key to stemming tide

Community and youth input are important keys to solving youth violence, according to a Pitt seminar.

“A lot of the time, the youth’s voice gets lost,” said Valerie Dixon, the restorative justice coordinator for the Center for Victims of Violence and Crime. “We started having young people come in and they all gave their input on what needs to be done to reduce violent crime.”
Youth input is not THE KEY to ending the violence. It is an important key. But it isn't the key.

I think it is worse. Not only are the youth without a voice. The voice-less spans to the third party candidates, to the bar and tavern owners who want to put a question onto the ballot for voters of Allegheny County, to school teachers who have little to say about closing and improving school performance.

Democracy is all about voices and votes. And, our democracy is frail. Those in power have kept the power for themselves -- and discounted the opposition. Then we all suffer.

Here is one way to deal with the lack of voice for the citizens -- the Bruce Kraus and Darlene Harris way. They choose to start every city council meeting by giving voice to a dog and a cat at the animal shelter. Meanwhile, the people come later. The voice of the residents are not as important as potential pets.

Anther city council example of how they think is to hold a town-hall meeting and have the cable television cameras point at the council members and not at the citizens who are the speakers. They put themselves on stage and train the camera to the back of the citizens.

Sure, "Something needs to be done." But that is no guarantee that the right things are the somethings. They can make matters worse.

When you don't know where you are going, any road can take you there. That's something. But life won't get better.

Putting up cameras isn't going to make things more safe. Cameras have been proven to make a small move of the crime to other areas - just a half-block away. Cameras do not work as well as street lights.

Olivia Jones, executive director of the YMCA Homewood-Brushton Branch, expressed the need for students to be able to connect careers with school in order to keep a focus on education. Jones also delved into the paranoia many children in violent neighborhoods experience.

Careers being connected with schools would be fine. That happened with South Vo Tech High School. It closed. There is nothing else like it in the works, still.

But in this world that crack built -- we need to first connect the kids to the schools before we can connect the careers to the schools. Our kids don't easily connect to schools that don't have sports. And, the city is building new schools that don't have sports. And, the sports that have happened in the schools are being cut. Sports in the city schools are often a joke. Hence, the kids don't connect with their schools. They don't connect with themselves. That's a lesson sports -- great sports -- can teach.

Hence, crack is attractive.

“It is a war zone in our communities only because kids don’t know what’s coming at them,” Jones said.
Well, I don't buy that so much. Sure, it is a war zone. Sure, kids don't know what's coming at them. But the because part is what I have issues with.

Kids don't know what's what within themselves. Kids need challenges and perspectives so as to get a handle on who they are -- what they are capable of doing -- why their efforts of self investment are worthy for growth and long-term health.

We need to prepare kids and for parts of that experience they need to strive without worry of what's coming at them.

When the only focus of the kids is on the external elements -- when all they do is watch what's coming at them -- we're screwed. They're screwed.

We need to combat the violence. To combat the violence, change the focus. Make an internal focus the challenge. Coaches do this better than others.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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