Tuesday, June 07, 2005

New research shows juvenile offenders at risk to die early

On page 3 or the Metro Section of the June 6, 2005 Chicago Tribune, an article reports on a new study published in the June issue of Pediatrics. The study concludes: Early violent death among delinquent and general-population youth affects racial/ethnic minorities disproportionately and should be addressed as are other health disparities.

Here are some quotes from the Tribune article

"Leaders in violence prevention say the study is a wakeup call to the needs of a wide variety of poor and minority youths. Delinquent African American males in the study had the highest mortality figures. The next highest rate was for Hispanic males."

"This should be recognized and used as a red flag not to body-slam these (delinquent) kids, but to give them some services and some protective factors," said Carl Bell, a child psychiatrist and president of the Chicago Community Memorial Health Council.

I agree. Now, how can we connect with the media, the health council and others to put this message on the front page instead of page 3 of the Metro section? How can we build a strategy that connects news and research to advocacy and to web directories that show what agencies are working in inner city neighborhoods to prevent kids from entering the juvenile Justice system, or to provide meaningful paths out of the system and into jobs/careers?

In a world where most people are focused on their own concerns, their own health issues, or the challenges of raising their own kids, how do we get people to become passionate about helping kids who don't look the same, have negative media images, and don't even live in the same neighborhood?

In a world focused on war, terrorism, politics, how do we draw attention to the unequal opportunities of kids living in poverty?

I believe the internet, blogging, web forums, etc. offer tools to connect those who care about these kids in a virtual forum that draws more consistent attention and resources to young people born in poverty. If you agree, join the Tutor/Mentor Connection in this effort.

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