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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Minneapolis' 'blueprint' to attack youth violence is a success

When a politician hails an initiative as a "blueprint" for change, it often fails to deliver any substantial results. This doesn't appear to be the case with Minneapolis' blueprint to prevent youth violence, which started in January.

Gathering outside the city's new juvenile supervision center Friday, Mayor R.T. Rybak and a dozen community leaders presented a progress report on the comprehensive plan. Some of the successes they discussed were simpler to achieve, such as recruiting 25 city employees to serve as mentors for area youth, or expanding summer hours and programming at parks where crime is a problem.

But then there were the 1,074 home visits by nurses to help pregnant teens and young parents remain in school or Shiloh Baptist Church on the city's north side seeking to engage every family in a 40-block radius in two targeted neighborhoods.

Juvenile crime statistics show the plan is working. Two years ago, people 10 to 24 years old were responsible for nearly half the violent crime in Minneapolis. This year, it's decreased to 25 percent. But the nine youth murdered in 2008 is one more than the previous year.

The city's strategy to attack juvenile crime as a public health issue is getting national attention. The U.S. Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities will incorporate the plan into its national crime agendas.

"I have never seen so many groups come together for one purpose," said Kelvin Quarles, general manager of community radio station KMOJ. [Mark Godsey]

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