Youth & Families Platform
The Green Party acknowledges that in many parts of town young people grow up in a war zone. Families are trapped In neighborhoods that have dilapidated over the past fifty years, due to our elected officials’ systematic neglect. A significant number of young people are treated as disposable, and a nuisance. Many of our communities are not provided with adequate schooling or sufficient resources, and the youth are being routed to jail and prison in mass numbers. Our city’s families need community based, comprehensive support.
The current methods used to quell youth violence; intensified policing methods, medicating without proper PTSD treatment, and incarceration, are politically and morally bankrupt. These policies lead to a disillusioned body of young people, who are then barred from finding a productive place in mainstream society. Upon initial review, recognizing youth violence as a public health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue might look like progress, but the approach is in the same idiom of blaming the victims. Mayor Slay’s Regional Youth Violence Prevention (YVP) Task Force Community Plan outlines the initiative to diagnose an increasing number of troubled children and youth as mentally ill as a response to youth crime. As a result, these youth become life-long consumers of psychotropic drugs, they will suffer the stigma attached to mental illness, and in many cases, will not experience an improvement in their quality of life.
This method does not address the underlying societal deprivations from which our youth are suffering, and which are the initial causes of many of the issues in our city. Ending the Drug War and de-criminalizing illicit drugs will curb gang violence over turfs since it eliminates the profit margin. Ending stigmatization and discrimination (such as: ineligibility for mainstream employment, food stamps and other resources), will ‚re-humanize ex-offenders, and provide them with viable legal opportunities. This will help to strengthen families and heal our communities.
The Greens call for the funding and implementation of comprehensive programs and policies that have experienced success in distressed communities, by providing support to at-risk youth and their families:
A New Vision:
1. Revival of the “Caring Communities” approach -- this is school-based, family oriented, community support, in conjunction with:
2. Teen Drop-In Centers in every neighborhood, anchored in community-based organizations,
3. Mobile outreach through ex-gang members/role models and/or social workers; instead of increasing the number of police officers,
4. “Cease Fire,” and mediation initiatives, led by respected, qualified Community Organizers,
5. Programs focused on mentoring, social and cognitive skill development, future orientation, conflict resolution,and trauma-related therapy.
6. Community based initiatives that create advanced employment, trade-learning, and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth and young adults,
7. Increase training opportunities for living wage jobs in sustainable fields such as: urban gardening, weatherization, and housing rehabilitation,
8. Intensive re-entry programs for gang-affiliated, and other ex-offenders, that provide social supports and mentoring in addition to education and employment assistance,
9. Affordable Day Care and Early Childhood Education for every child, including free childcare for low income families,
10. Conflict resolution and trauma recognition training for all teachers, social workers, and volunteers,
11. Strengthen the Public School System by creating Community Schools with highly trained, qualified, and motivated personnel
12. Provide nutritious food in all schools, as well as education on junk food and lead poisoning to children of all ages, as well as their parents.