San Diego County scored in the middle of the rankings in a statewide report released today measuring progress towards preventing youth violence “Choices for Youth: A Public Education Campaign to Prevent Violence Against Youth” issued the report, which grades counties on the state of youth safety and efforts to provide youth with positive choices.
San Diego County received a “C” for the state of youth safety. The county fared better in grades for efforts to provide positive choices for youth, such as after-school programs and adult-supervised activities, earning a “B-“.
The Youth Violence Prevention Scorecard graded the 15 largest counties in the state, which comprise 83 percent of California’s youth population ages 10 to 17. “Choices for Youth” worked with an advisory group of violence prevention experts from across the state. The group recognizes that there are many indicators that could be used to provide a picture of safe communities, and acknowledges the thousands of community-based organizations in the state that contribute meaningfully to providing programs that offer young people job training, mentoring and other constructive uses of their time that also serve to keep them safe. The scorecard is limited by available data sets for all counties and age groups, and is designed to provide a snapshot representative of realities facing youth and their choices in California.
The scorecard looks first at the statues of youth safety by assigning each of the state’s 58 counties a rank based on rates of assault victimization, self-inflicted injury, incarceration rates, student/counselor ratios, and the percentage of youth graduating with University of California and California State University (UC/CSU) qualifications. Second, the scorecard reviews how communities are using their state and federal funding resources to provide choices for youth, such as crime prevention, after-school programs, job training and mentor programs.
“This scorecard reflects that counties are allocating funds for prevention but do not have enough resources to deal with the scope of the problem” said Laurie Kappe, Choices for Youth director. “It’s clear that we need more after-school programs, job-training, mentor-ing and other adult-supervised activities to help prevent violence against youth across the state.”
The scorecard evaluates the state of youth safety in San Diego County by ranking the county among California’s 58 counties based on various indicators. San Diego County ranks 13th for the student/counselor ratio (801 per counselor) and 15th for the percentage of students (38 percent) graduating with UC/CSU qualifications. The county ranks 21st for its incarceration rate (145 of every 100,000 youth). San Diego ranks poorly for its self-inflicted injury rate 46th, with 60 out of 100,000 youth afflicted, and its assault rate ranks 52nd statewide, with 38 out of every 100,000 youth assaulted.
To grade counties on efforts to provide choices for youth, their effective use of several funding streaks were considered, including: the Juvenile Justice and Crime Prevention Act (Schiff-Cardenas 2000), 21st Century Learning Center Program, the Workforce Investment Act job program, and three state mentoring grants awarded to each county through the Governor’s Mentoring Partnerships, the Office of the Secretary of Education and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.
The scorecard found missed results in San Diego. In evaluating its programs for providing choices for youth. While San Diego earns high marks both for securing mentoring funds from the state, and for designating 93 percent of its Juvenile Justice and Crime Prevention Act funds to prevention programs. The county dedicates an even third of its after-school funds to high-school youth while only seven percent of 16 to 19 year olds can take advantage of local job training programs.
“Choices for Youth: A Public Education to Prevent Violence Against Youth,” funded by a grant to i.e communications, LLC from the California Wellness Foundation, is working to inform policymakers, opinion leaders and the general public about the need to increase California’s investment in programs to prevent violence against youth. The “Choice for Youth” campaign has conducted two statewide voter polls and numerous youth-to-youth surveys on the subject of violence against youth. In the surveys, voters and youth agree that violence is preventable if we can provide youth positive choices, such as good schools job training, enrichment programs and mentoring.
The complete report with accompanying data, and additional information on the Youth Violence Prevention Scorecard can be found at www.prevent-violence.org/press/recources.htm.