A decade ago too many kids were being shot and killed in Minneapolis. R.T. Rybak, who was mayor at the time, remembers the frustration of standing at the scene of a fatal shooting and hearing bystanders say, “I saw this coming.” Both the teen lying dead and the shooter had shown signs of trouble, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The city as a whole, Rybak concluded, had failed, and such violence could be reduced, even prevented. In 2007, In 2007, the mayor began recruiting now nearly 80 agencies in county and city government, schools and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, and local officials developed a plan called the Blueprint for Action to Prevent Youth Violence.
It is framed by these goals: Foster violence-free neighborhoods, schools and parks. Connect children and teens to a trusted adult. Intervene with youths and families at the first sign of risk. Redirect youths who go down the wrong path. Concentrate law enforcement efforts on protecting children and young adults from violence. With a set of guiding principles, violence prevention work “became dramatically more focused,” Rybak said. It’s working. In Minneapolis, nonfatal shootings involving youths have dropped 72 percent, compared with 29 percent in Milwaukee. In 2013, 13 children age 17 or younger were homicide victims in Milwaukee. There was none in Minneapolis. Last year, it was eight in Milwaukee, two in Minneapolis. What is Milwaukee’s plan to reduce youth violence? There isn’t one.