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Strategies to combat youth violence range from GED preparation and after-school programs to bedside intervention with shooting victims, political organizing and cultural education. For example, Youth Alive, started in 1989, was one of the first organizations to identify gun violence as a public health issue. The interruption of the cycle of retaliatory violence has been recognized as a key strategy used in a number of programs, including Youth Alive’s Caught in the Crossfire and the city’s Oakland Unite anti-violence efforts.
One of the reasons Oakland attracted so many programs was the extreme level of gun violence in the mid-1980s into the 1990s at the how to dye ballet shoes brown height of the crack epidemic, “There has been a big reduction in gang activity in the schools and the neighborhood parks since the ’90s,” said David Kakishiba, executive director of the East Bay Asian Youth Center, For example, in the mid-1980s, Cambodian gangs contributed to the youth violence, “That’s changed, The original members have aged, The gangs aren’t as attractive to the younger generation and the community has dispersed,” he said..
Lee, who graduated from high school in 1994, said violence was pervasive at the time. “At every dance, there was a shooting. You would go, dance, hang out with your friends, then there would be a shooting and you would run. Someone didn’t always get shot, but someone shot a gun. That’s how the party ended. Violence was normalized for us,” she said. In a key discovery, Oakland’s anti-violence activists identified the long-term, ongoing effects of trauma on young people who grew up surrounded by violence. They began to focus on the need for and methods of healing. They also found that the youth and their families need help on many levels, including health, housing, education and employment, what they call wraparound services.
Regina Jackson, president and CEO of East Oakland Youth Development Center, said in the 20 years she’s been there, she’s seen several shifts in the neighborhoods served by the organization, “People are being a little bit more thoughtful,” she said, “The pain and trauma that’s permeated their lives is not something they are willing to be consumed by.”, EOYDC has focused on GED preparedness, “Most in our GED classes walked away from school, Now, they see they need a route out so they can get on with the rest of their lives, We’re not just teaching how to dye ballet shoes brown to the test, but re-engineering the way they show up in the world — the personal values, actions and behaviors that cut them off from opportunities,” Jackson said..
Talking to people who work with youth, you notice many of them have been doing it for decades. Over the years, I’ve observed an almost fanatical dedication that finds youth workers answering calls in the middle of the night or going into their own pockets to provide financial resources. They explain once you see a young person change his or her life, or conversely, see someone slip through your fingers, the urgency is riveting. In addition to people resources, Oakland has benefited from major financial investments in anti-violence efforts. Going back to the mid-1990s and the Kids First Initiative; Measure Y, passed in 2004; and, most recently, Measure Z, Oakland residents have made significant and ongoing investments in youth development programs. The county and state governments have also provided crucial financial support, as have private foundations.
Several people said they think Oakland’s legacy of working to prevent youth violence laid the groundwork for the reduction in homicides in the past two years and the successes of the Ceasefire strategy, (Ceasefire uses law enforcement, how to dye ballet shoes brown social services and community involvement to persuade young men to choose an alternative to the street life.), In the meantime, the work continues, At United Roots, the #DeterminedTo media campaign is a series of 12 posters of young black men, “Determined to be Father” features a young black man and his little girl, “Determined to Believe in Myself” shows a young man in a suit standing on a street corner where he once hung out, You may have seen the posters at bus kiosks..
Galen Silvestri, executive director of United Roots, said the posters have strongly resonated with young black men. Lee tells the story of Rayna Smith. Her mother was shot in the head when she was 18 months old; she was pregnant and kept alive on life support until Rayna’s little brother was born. The two were raised by different family members. Violence continued to haunt her; her uncle was killed, her father’s girlfriend slain. On her 16th birthday, a childhood friend was killed in an officer-involved shooting at the end of her block.
“When Rayna came to our program, she thought it was crazy for anyone to think they could stop the violence,” Lee said, how to dye ballet shoes brown explaining that trauma often leaves people with the belief that they have no control over their lives, Lee saw a transformation in Smith after she participated in an organizing effort for a jobs campaign, Since then, Smith has emerged as a leader in the organization, “For me, it’s about the deep pride I have in Oakland,” Lee said of her 20 years of work in the field, “Oakland has a fighting spirit, I love this city so deeply, and, to me, the young people represent the hope for Oakland.”..