This is a really important guest post by Stephanie L. Mann who a Crime & Violence Prevention Consultant and the author of “Street Safe Kids” and “Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods: Stopping Crime Where You Live” Check out her fabulous and informative website!
The breakdown of the family contributes to neighborhood isolation, which in turn fuels drug abuse, crime and violence. Children are the largest group of crime victims and victimizers.
Bullying starts at an early age. 30 percent of sixth- through 10th-graders are involved in bullying at school. (Source: CDC: Center for Disease Control & Prevention) In Richmond, CA., a six year old was charged with attempted murder of a baby. Neighbors knew the boy was neglected but failed to react or call protective services. Adults must intervene.
In California alone, there are 300,000 gang members. Bullies take charge of gangs. Weaker youth join for protection. They often vandalize, steal, destroy property and even commit murder. In 2007, every day in America, 4 children were killed by abuse or neglect, 8 children died by firearms, 4,302 children were arrested and 17,132 public school students were suspended. (Source: Children’s Defense Fund) It is critical for neighbors to be involved to help protect youth and keep neighborhoods safe.
Child safety is a community responsibility
Cities respond to crime by hiring more police. Of course we need adequate police protection but police are trained to react to crime. The national average is between 1.6 and 2.4 police officers for every 1000 citizens (www.FBI.org/ucr). The police alone cannot keep your family safe.
Organized neighborhoods are your best protection. When citizens take charge of neighborhood safety, families stay safer. Involved neighbors who know each other, set up a network of communication via computers or “phone tree,” and stay informed. They become aware of youth problems and can work together to stop bullies, speeding cars, excessive noise, graffiti or vandalism. They find out if gangs, drug dealers or predators live in the neighborhood and work with police to stop dangerous situations for escalating.
Neighbors can enlist the help of religious groups and business owners. As the neighborhood becomes safer, church members can help by sponsoring block parties, neighborhood clean ups, neighborhood newsletters or plant community gardens. Problems do not return when neighbors become a network of support. Everyone benefits!
In 1969, Orinda, CA was incorporated and residents were victims of approximately 400 burglaries. The volunteer association president appointed a citizen’s committee to tackle the problem. They organized neighborhoods, sponsored forums and drug education at the high school. Within 2 1/2 years, crime decreased 48 percent WITHOUT a local police department.
Barbara lives in San Pablo, CA. The park was taken over by drug dealers. City council voted to fence off the park. Barbara got angry because the park was needed to serve families. She went door to door organizing an informal citizen’s patrol. Neighbors worked with police taking down descriptions, and documenting drug deals. Within 3 1/2 months, neighbors took back the park. They went to a city council meeting and requested the money reserved for the fence be used for new swings and park benches. Their request was granted.
In Richmond CA, Abraham, saw crime increasing. He visited every home in his area and identified 21 block leaders who agreed to organize their neighborhood. The word got out and crime decreased dramatically within one month.
In San Ramon CA, a rapist attacked two women within ten days. Rumors spread and people started to arm themselves. The police chief called an emergency meeting of 43 neighborhood leaders. The neighborhood leaders passed out accurate information. The rapist was caught within eight days.
Caring neighbors make neighborhoods safe.
CONDUCT A SURVEY – Become a Community Leader!
Before you canvas your neighborhood…contact police to obtain local statistics. Find out if training services are available? Do they have prevention flyers?
Ask friends or neighbors to help with the planning.
1. Designate the area you want to target.
2. Select time and date. Consider Sunday afternoon when people are home.
3. Provide nametags, and a notebook to record responses.
4. Get permission to write down names and phone numbers of people interested in making their neighborhood safe. Give residents an invitation to next meeting.
5. Hand out crime prevention flyers to everyone, if available.
6. Hand out invitation to next meeting to interested neighbors.
7. At first meeting, discuss survey results and how to proceed. And/or, invite speaker to discuss major concern.
8. Stay in touch…be a friend!
SUGGESTED SURVEY QUESTIONS:
Have you been a crime victim? (Or, know someone?)
What is your biggest neighborhood concern?
Will you help? (If no…Want to stay informed?)
Education and communication are critical for the protection and safety of children. Every juvenile delinquent, gang member, drug abuser, abused and neglected child is growing up in someone’s neighborhood. When citizens stop tolerating thefts, bullying, stealing, drugs, crime and violence, our communities will become safe, healthy environments for children and families.
Stephanie L. Mann, Crime & Violence Prevention Consultant
Author: “Street Safe Kids” and “Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods: Stopping Crime Where You Live”
For more information, ask questions and/or join the parent’s network at “Safe Kids Now!” Contact Us at: