Youth Violence Task Force

Mayor Francis Slay and his Commission on Children, Youth and Families have spearheaded a regional effort to address youth violence.

October 15, 2013 | 2 min reading time
YVP-Taskforce
Though recent years have brought declines in both overall youth crime and violent youth crime, St. Louis’ rates of violence are still higher than in most other places in the nation. With 50 youth gunshot deaths for every 100,000 people, that rate is more than three times the national rate of 15 deaths per 100,000. The surrounding 15 county region, which includes municipalities in Missouri and Illinois, ranks ninth among US metropolitan areas for the number of youth murdered with guns.

In response, Mayor Francis Slay and his Commission on Children, Youth and Families are spearheading a regional effort to engage youth, law enforcement and youth-serving agencies in addressing youth violence. Today's news concerning the St. Louis Regional Youth Violence Prevention (YVP) Task Force Community Plan, is a culmination of  many meetings with more than 200 service providers, youth, municipal officials, educators, faith based leaders, funders, law enforcement personnel, and concerned citizens.

Community leaders, with strong input from teens from both sides of the river, have built a regional plan to prevent youth violence. The plan presents a detailed strategy for improving the safety and well-being of the region’s children, families and communities.

“Crime knows no boundaries. Engaging young people and our neighbors is a crucial piece of youth violence prevention. Our youth need safe places to go, meaningful employment options and adults who are willing to work with them,” Mayor Slay said. 

Participants of the community forum have worked together to develop strategies in four key areas of youth violence: prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry. These targeted areas are based on the framework developed by the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. 

  • Prevention by: Ensuring that more young people have access to job readiness, training and employment programs
  • Intervention by: Expanding access to high quality programs that build youth resiliency, teach positive social skills, and impart practical skills around how to cope with peer pressure, gangs, violence, drugs etc. Increasing youth’s access to and receipt of mental and behavioral health supports and services and extending the availability and accessibility of safe places for youth during evenings, weekends and summers.
  • Enforcement by: Increasing alternatives to youth incarceration and detention. Enhancing and expanding diversion initiatives to reduce the juvenile jail population and prevent crime. Strengthening collaboration and active community policing among law enforcement, youth, families, schools and other community stakeholders. Reducing youth’s access to and use of firearms and illegal weapons.
  • Re-entry by: Strengthening aftercare services that work to keep reentering youth from being arrested or convicted of future crimes, including mental health, substance abuse and independent living supports. 

The YVP Task Force will work with many groups and individuals to identify resources; align efforts; execute strategies; champion policy change; and engage affected youth, families and communities. The co-chairs, along with the elected executives will mobilize national, state and local funding sources to implement the plan.

The Regional Youth Violence Prevention Task Force is co-chaired by: Bridget McDermott Flood, Incarnate Word Foundation; Rev. Starsky Wilson, Deaconess Foundation; and Matthew Kuhlenbeck, Missouri Foundation for Health.
  • Department:
    Office of the Mayor
  • Topic:

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