At a time when Seattle is enjoying its lowest crime rates in 40 years, gun and gang violence is disproportionately affecting young people, says the Seattle Times. City Council member Tim Burgess, who chairs the council’s public-safety committee, said gangs are more sophisticated than ever and are aggressively recruiting kids as young as 12 and forcing young women into prostitution. Last week, the Seattle City Council released a 12-point initiative for reducing street crime that deals with everything from gang graffiti to aggressive panhandling. Next month, Mayor Greg Nickels is expected to announce his plan for curbing youth violence. A spokesman said the mayor’s plan represents “a significant investment in our youth.”
A new Urban League program called “Project Interruption” will provide a forum for young people, their parents, and others affected by violence to voice and acknowledge their grief. Those who need it can be connected with pastors, psychologists, grief counselors or – in the cases of those who need the most help – therapists with Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress. The second phase will include targeted outreach to schools to help young people channel their emotions into writing projects, murals and other artistic expressions. It’s also meant to provide families with resources and give kids a chance to picture healthy, positive futures for themselves.