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Joint Roundtable on Youth Safety

Joint Roundtable on Youth Safety

Joint Roundtable on Youth Safety

Today Elected leaders, law-enforcement officials and community activist from across Miami-Dade County jump start a Joint Roundtable on Youth Safety in Florida. The focus topic made a push to secure that Miami-Dade community does everything possible to protect our most precious element and that is our children.

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A teenager shot and killed Thursday in Brownsville, two other teens killed earlier in the week, a total of three dead in three days in Miami. The schools superintendent says he’s tired of going to student funerals.

“I stopped counting at 44,” Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho said at a meeting Friday. “Too much pain, too many hurtful embraces of mothers and fathers.”

18-Year-Old Shot in Liberty City

Carvalho was speaking at the second Joint Roundtable on Youth Safety meeting. It was held at Miami Senior High, bringing together educators, politicians, police, and community activists. The object, according to organizers, was not to just talk about the problem but to begin taking action to reduce youth violence.

Judging from the numbers, they have their work cut out for them. According to the Miami-Dade school district, from 2009 through 2012, a total of 99 school kids were killed in the county. That’s three times the number over the same span of time in Broward County, and 81 of those children were killed with guns.

“Definitely too easy to get guns in our community,” said Liberty City activist Cuthbert Harewood.

That’s just one of the problems. The question for the panel is, what can be done to turn back the tide of youth violence? Roundtable participant Fred Maas, the police chief of Sunny Isles Beach and before that a veteran cop with the Miami-Dade Police, has some thoughts.

“I think the most important thing is that it’s a partnership with parents, children, schools, and law enforcement to tackle the problem,” Maas said. “And I think it’s a parental situation from day one, parents need to take responsibility, they need to know where their children are.”

Miami Police have been enforcing the county’s teen curfew ordinance, hoping that effort will get kids back inside their homes late at night and therefore out of trouble. That’s one approach for law enforcement.

Ray Parris leads a group taking another tack. His organization, called Parafruit Education, Inc. runs a program in Liberty City that teaches life skills, financial literacy, and tech skills to teenagers. The idea is to take them off the streets and into a job.

“Create opportunities out of whatever talent and skills that you have,” Parris said.

The Roundtable on Friday adopted a blueprint to take action on several fronts, including increasing police presence at school and parks, getting the word out about crime prevention and about summer job programs, increasing access to behavioral and mental health services, and more. However, no one thinks these measures will cure the problem overnight. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez cautioned everyone not to expect miracles in the fight against teen violence.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to eliminate it because that’s not in the cards,” Gimenez said. “But reduction can be had and that’s what we’re looking for, a steep reduction in crime and violence against kids.”

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MIAMI(CBS4) – Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is urging parents to “hug our kids” after a recent rash of shootings that have taken the lives of students and he hopes a new, 10-point pledge will  improve safety for youngsters.

The pledge was endorsed during a 90-minute roundtable on youth safety at Miami Senior High School that was hosted by Carvalho and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The meeting included local leaders, mayors and police chiefs.

Among measures, the pledge calls for more police presence and visibility at schools and at and near county and municipal parks during early-release school days and enhancing public awareness of existing crime prevention programs.

“It’s time for communities to start rallying around roundtables and start doing something about this crime,” said Sammie Willis, whose 15-year-old son Aaron was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the back in a drive-by shooting last year in Miami while riding his bicycle.

“I really feel this is something that was needed for a long time and now we are having the responsible leaders get together and approach this matter,” Willis told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.

“It’s an epidemic that has turned into a pandemic. So many kids are just dropping dead on the streets and for what? How many kids could have become politicians or even a President and they are cut down in the prime of their life.”

 

Aaron Willis’s mother, Katherine Beaton, told D’Oench, “We need after school special programs that address these needs and this has to start right now, because these kids are getting killed for no reason at all.”

“I’ve attended more than 44 funerals of youngsters,” said Carvalho. “From 2009 until now,   there have been 99 children killed in Miami-Dade. That’s three times the rate of Broward County and it’s unacceptable.”

“We need to hug our kids. We need to increase the level of personal responsibility,” said Carvalho, who has reached out to many families of crime victims.

He recently visited Jackson Memorial Hospital after 17-year-old Booker T. Washington High School student Juan Videa was shot in the stomach.

And last December 27th, he passed out flyers along with the parents of 16-year-old Bryan Herrera, looking for leads in the case of the high school student who was shot and killed just before Christmas while riding his bicycle to a friend’s home to do homework.

The pledge expressed concern about “recent acts of deadly violence against Children in our community” and also called for implementation of a countywide school critical incident response plan, research and development of a smart device reporting application.

The pledge also called for increasing a family’s access to school-based behavioral and mental health services, identifying and enhancing employment programs including summer job opportunities “with track records of success” and promoting youth empowerment summits.

The pledge also called for “open communication channels between youths and law enforcement agencies.”

Gimenez said, “I think schools need to have more visibility of police and I think we need an action plan to do that, so that our young people can communicate with us when they see things happening. And we need different strategies to take care of kids in our parks and neighborhoods.”

“We need to have better communication in the county,” he said.

Activist Ray Parris said, “One of the key things that jumps out is we need  more investment in the community for jobs. We need more jobs.”

He also called for more parental involvement with their children.

“This is always the key,” Parris said. “The more divided a family is the greater the chance a child can go through and get into problems.”

“There needs to be an agreement over security to ensure that the environment is safe around our schools,” Carvalho told D’Oench. “Secondly the safety of children at our parks is important. We also need better crisis management between all police agencies, the county and the School Board.”

This was the second joint roundtable on youth safety in recent months in South Florida with local leaders.

Read more at http://miami.cbslocal.com/2013/03/08/10-point-pledge-endorsed-to-improve-youth-safety-after-rash-of-shootings/