19 Apr The Violence of Not Prioritizing Youth
via Voice of OC
There is a crisis in Santa Ana. Violence in our communities has claimed the life of one too many young people. Too many families are mourning the death of a child as a result of violence in our communities. One can’t help but be extremely outraged by the possibility that some elected officials may be considering to use the recent death of young people in Santa Ana as a pretext to pay back a political debt owed to the Santa Ana Police Officers Association.
The Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers recently released the results from a Behavioral Health Needs Assessment Survey. The findings reveal something profoundly troubling. Those surveyed stated that clinics in Santa Ana met 0% of youth behavioral health needs in regards to supportive services and case management. The findings call our attention to an interesting fact. Santa Ana has over 100,000 young residents and yet there is no Santa Ana Department of Healthy Youth Development and the only systemic response to youth behavior that the city funds, is the Police Department.
The credibility and intentions of any elected official that calls for a one-dimensional approach to the violence in our community by proposing increases to the already disproportionate spending on the Police Department, will be questioned. Serious conversations regarding violence in our communities require substance, which means going beyond the, “let’s talk about gun control” rhetoric as well. Let’s talk about what is causing youth trauma, youth stress, youth anger, youth rage in Santa Ana. Let’s talk about what science states are best non-suppression, non-punitive based responses and practices regarding violence prevention and intervention. Let’s talk about rent control, housing, green space, safe streets and socio-emotional supports for developing youth. Let’s talk about creating a Santa Ana Youth Department that can build and sustain a youth focused city infrastructure promoting healthy youth development.
Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” What keener revelation can we obtain from assessing the status of youth investment in Santa Ana, than the tragic consequences of failing to meet the needs of our young residents?