08 May 2009

Momentum builds for helping youth, fighting gangs

More than 200 people packed the Penn State York Conference Center May 1 for a gang prevention summit. They heard David White detail the results of his needs assessment, which had these two key conclusion: Gangs exist in every area of York County; and the current lack of coordination, collaboration and communication between service agencies frustrates, even angers, those who participated in the study. They heard Bev Mackereth, York County's new director of Human Services, who pledged to have the county take the lead in administering Pennsylvania Youth Surveys for all 16 county school districts. Here's why the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency says that's important:

The data gathered in PAYS serve two primary needs. First, the results provide school administrators, state agency directors, legislators and others with critical information concerning the changes in patterns of the use and abuse of these harmful substances and behaviors. Second, the survey assesses risk factors that are related to these behaviors and the protective factors that help guard against them. This information allows community leaders to direct prevention resources to areas where they are likely to have the greatest impact.
Finally, they heard York Police Capt. Wes Kahley, who provided the welcome. Kahley has been the leader here working for more than a decade in a multi-county effort to confront problems associated with gang activity. He is truly a York County hero. And the quest to find solutions to help our young people deal with gangs and drugs and a host of other issues is truly a York County problem requiring, as White noted, coordination, collaboration and communication.

What next steps do you think should the county take in this effort?

Update, 5/11: Authorities call city girl's death gang related. Read the York Daily Record story here.

- Dan Fink

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I attended the workshop and was stunned to hear how disconnected the social service counselors are ... I feel the county government and Human Services needs to step up their game to start working together in all agencies. This means more collaboration between CYS, MHMR, Probation, DA's office. When a child gets into trouble, all of these agencies need to be working together, not defensively, along with community resources.

That said, there needs to be more services for kids who are showing signs of being in trouble BEFORE he or she gets into trouble. Most services are for the ones who have already been charged/convicted.