City considering program to curb youth violence

South Bend's Common Council is considering a program they hope will help combat the city's youth violence program.

The Youth Engagement Program would be run through the South Bend Parks Department and would focus on at-risk youth.

"The key to this is preventative," said Executive Director Phil St. Clair. "We have so many good kids in the community, but we have a lot of kids on the fence. And I think the Youth Engagement Program will target kids on the fence and show them there are better choices."

With the help of South Bend schools, the city will recruit teens from all neighborhoods.

They'll participate in activities and weekly meetings that will help them learn how to make healthy, safe decisions.

During a Common Council budget hearing Wednesday, the Parks Department said it needs at least $150,000 to staff and run the program in 2013.

"Where can the money come from? It can come from other parts of the budget," said Common Council member Oliver Davis. "Like sharing with our controller, some part can come from the police department, it can come from the parks department. We can do a variety of different funding arrangements to make up one for the program."

The money will help pay for two full-time staff members, as well as some assistants.

Similar youth engagement programs have been successful in larger cities.


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