Laura Bush Youth Program: A Symbolic Effort?


First Lady Laura Bush’s new antigang program aims at showing “an ideal of manhood that respects life and rejects violence,” Bush said yesterday in Philadelphia, which is struggling to combat a rash of youth violence. The Philadelphia Inquirer says David Fattah, founder of the House of Umoja, a Philadelphia facility for at-risk youths that has focused on gang violence since the 1970s, welcomed the proposal. “It’s very positive that the White House is thinking about efforts to create peace in the ‘hood,” Fattah said. “This is not a hopeless situation. All efforts to help young people encourage me.”

But will the three-year $150 million program amount to much? Sanford Newman, president of the national organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, said that the plan’s value would not become clear until President Bush submits his budget to Congress next week. The proposal translates to about $1 million a year for each state, which Newman called “at best a symbolic effort.” “If he wants that money to come out of existing programs, then we’re against it,” Newman said.


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