Treat Youth Violence Like an Epidemic, Says Pasadena Health Department

‘Project Safe’ aims to curb bullying and increase understanding between police and Pasadena youth

Published : Thursday, September 19, 2019 | 4:44 AM

Youth violence is a disease and should be treated like one, according to Project Safe Pasadena, a program recently developed by the Pasadena Public Health Department.

In a presentation Wednesday before the City’s Public Safety Committee, the Health Department’s Ange?lica Palmeros and Director of Public Health and Health Officer Dr. Ying-Ying Goh explained the program’s goals and methods.

Project Safe treats the problem of youth violence in the same way as a medical epidemic, Goh told the Committee.

Defining youth violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power to threaten or harm others by young people ages 10 to 24 years,” the report said that the violence “takes different forms, including fights, bullying, threats with weapons, and gang-related violence.”

The specific program, “Cure Violence,” is also included in the Greater Pasadena Community Health Improvement Plan as an improvement, with an objective to “increase the perceived safety, decrease the frequency of harassment and bullying at school, and increase public safety in the community”

The program’s “Cure Violence” methodology approaches violence like an epidemic disease and applies strategies associated with disease control. The model addresses violence from a public health perspective with a grassroots approach, explained Palmeros, and utilizes Community Based Advocates (CBAs) as “violence interrupters.”

According to Palmeros, “violence interrupters” are “culturally appropriate staff who live in the community, who are known to high-risk people, and have lived experience with crime or violence exposure.” But instead of administering medicine, the program aims to “interrupt the cycle of violence, change community norms, and improve community-police relations and local policies.”

The Public Health and Human Services & Recreation Departments in 2018, conducted a brief survey among youth aged 11-18 among Northwest Pasadena, “to understand the perception of violence among youth living in the Northwest Pasadena.”

Palmeros noted, for example, that many of the youths growing up in Northwest Pasadena “felt that they needed a weapon to feel safe.”

Enlisting the help of Northwest Pasadena’s Harvest Village Ministries, the Department also developed “Why’d You Stop Me?” (WYSM) in coordination with the Pasadena Police Department, to create a better understanding and relationship between Pasadena police officers and local youth, said Palmeros.

From March 4 to 8, 2019, the WYSM program conducted a Peer-to-Peer Model Training covering effective two-way communication techniques, de-escalation training, defining power and fear, and racial profiling vs. criminal profiling.

In the second phase of the project, from July 22-24, the WYSM program conducted a 27-hour “Train the Trainer” Program, which was based on a Community Policing 21st Century Leadership Curriculum.

WYSM will next conduct two community training presentations with trainers for specific target groups in October 2019.

blog comments powered by Disqus