Crime Watch

Youth Crime Watch helps kids take a bite out of crime


Special to The Miami Herald

Last week’s column generated several emails from you asking if Youth Crime Watch is in every school. Unfortunately due to budgets, we are not, but we do service those that contact us. Therefore I asked our program director, Joel Mesa, to write my column for today to enlighten my readers about our program.

Youth Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County serves nearly 35,000 students per school year via youth crime prevention presentations, safety projects, YCW club meetings, assemblies, rallies, and special events. Our YCW School Coordinators conduct more than 500 presentations per school year at the Miami-Dade schools on: YCW orientations, YCW installation, YCW appreciation, reporting crimes, school safety, school violence prevention, bullying and cyberbullying prevention, sexting prevention, stranger danger, personal safety, drug prevention, gun prevention, character education, cyber safety, anger management, McGruff the Crime Dog, and much more.

I have experienced at first-hand the dominant factors that youth crime prevention education has in molding our future leaders to strive for success and strengthen our school communities. The students are the “eyes and ears” of our schools. They are the primary stakeholders in preventing crime at their schools by educating their peers on safety topics and by anonymously reporting threats and warning signs that can lead to violent incidents. However, they cannot do this without adequate training. YCW of Miami-Dade County’s primary mission is to provide them the training and skills to make their safety visions an observable reality. It is a mission that has been possible year after year.

Children and young people can be so vulnerable to fall for the ills of school crime. Youth Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County has been healing those ills throughout the last 33 years by implementing programs in the Miami-Dade schools. YCW of Miami-Dade County was selected as the National Crime Prevention Program of the Year by the National Crime Prevention Council. YCW educates students on safety skills which in turn the youth apply those skills in their schools to promote safe school environments, educate their peers on youth crime prevention, and curb school crime. The organization also provides students and faculty a multitude of crime prevention materials so the safety education can be reinforced in the classroom lessons and in YCW club activities. YCW is also the premier organization which has McGruff the Crime Dog appear at Miami-Dade school safety functions and help kids “take a bite out of crime.”

School crime statistics and survey assessments have continuously demonstrated that schools with YCW programs have lower crime rates and safer school environments. This in turn is a contributing factor in academic achievement. A child that is fearful of being bullied and harassed will prioritize their fear over their academics. On the other side of the “safety spectrum”, those children that feel comfortable and safe in their school environments will be more motivated & determined to focus on their academics.

Crime Prevention is a holistic process, working with teachers, counselors, parents, administrators and schools police, but the most important participant is the parent. For more information, feel free to call our office 305-470-1670 and we will be happy to send you a brochure.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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