City of Philadelphia’s Youth Violence Prevention Plan
If there was a Bill of Rights for Philadelphia’s children, the first and most important would be the right to be safe: at home, at school, and on the streets.
But for too many of Philadelphia’s children, life is anything but safe: Large numbers have been the victims of violence, and many who have escaped physical injury have been traumatized by violent incidents against their families and neighbors. Research shows that it is these very young people who are at most risk of eventually perpetrating violence.
Since Mayor Michael Nutter took office in 2008, Philadelphia has reduced violent crime by 15 percent and property crimes by nine percent. This modest success does not change the fact that a shocking number of the city’s children, particularly African American children, remain in danger of becoming victims or eventual perpetrators.
Presented by the Philadelphia Youth Violence Prevention Collaborative (YVPC), this Youth Violence Prevention Strategic Plan outlines a collective effort to turn Philadelphia into one of the country’s safest cities. It aims to do this by 1) embedding youth violence prevention and reduction in the work and priority of every relevant city agency; 2) ensuring that youth and high impact communities are engaged in the development and ownership of the strategy; and 3) taking a long-term approach.
The Collaborative was created in fall 2012 when the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) selected Philadelphia to be among the 10 cities participating in the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention.
Emphasizing the urgency of the situation, Mayor Michael A. Nutter called on the city to redouble its efforts on youth violence prevention. Driven by the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, Everett Gillison, more than 30 leaders from government, academia, and other stakeholder groups in Philadelphia are part of the Collaborative, which is co-chaired by Anne Marie Ambrose, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Kevin Dougherty, Administrative Judge of the Family Court of Philadelphia, and Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia Police Commissioner.
The Collaborative members represent the city’s leadership from a wide cross-section of disciplines in recognition that many factors contribute to and can alleviate youth violence. Through their participation, the Collaborative members ensure that the city’s efforts to alleviate poverty, enhance workforce development, and reform juvenile justice, for example, are aligned with this strategic plan to prevent youth violence.
YVPC’s executive director is Richard Greenwald, a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow. Nine other individuals from city government devote a portion of their time to this work. In all, more than 125 people have been involved in workgroups to create this plan, which is focused on the Forum’s priority strategies: Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement, Reentry, Data, and Evaluation.
Lastly, this plan recognizes that the youth violence prevention strategy must be a living document that responds to and reflects community needs, with community ownership and participation, so that it will be sustainable across mayoral administrations. Therefore, this plan will continue to evolve as a result of a collaborative process that includes diverse stakeholders.