There have been many issues regarding our youth lately, so I asked Joel Mesa, education director for Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County, to write about our schools program to inform parents what is available to their kids.
Youth Crime Watch (YCW) of Miami-Dade is an educational program established to foster a safe school environment impacting student well-being through awareness & involvement. It was founded in 1979 as a program of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County. It is a prevention program available to all Miami-Dade County public and private schools, grades K through12.
The program was established to help youths develop proactive strategies to create safe schools for all students. It is a school-wide, extracurricular program that functions as a club/group. YCW school coordinators work with school officials (YCW school advisors) and students to help each YCW Club/Group develop and tailor their program to meet the needs unique to their own school. YCW works very closely with the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, which funds part of the program. Starting a YCW program in a school does not signal a problem. Instead, it seeks to prevent crime and violence from happening in the school environment.
Youth Crime Watch encourages positive peer pressure among students to take pride in their school through its series of crime prevention training programs and action projects. The YCW program is structured to teach leadership skills to students who volunteer to learn about school safety. While they learn how to keep themselves safe, they also learn public speaking, critical thinking, leadership and other skills that will serve them into their adult lives. This, in turn, reinforces their self-esteem and promotes positive involvement, curbing misbehavior, and crime and violence in the school.
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YCW school coordinators are certified by the Florida attorney general’s office and are available to conduct trainings and crime-prevention presentations. YCW Coordinators utilize a science-based youth crime prevention curriculum in conducting presentations and assemblies on a variety of topics including reporting crimes, bullying/cyberbullying prevention, personal safety, drug prevention, school violence prevention, school safety, gun safety awareness, anger management, character education, sexing prevention, among others.
▪ Encourage students to report crimes observed in and around the school, thereby discouraging criminal activity.
▪ Develop and implement safety skills for a safe learning environment.
▪ Make students aware of the different avenues available in crime prevention.
▪ Educate students on various topics in the field of crime prevention.
▪ Educate students regarding the consequences of crime, and how it affects them directly.
▪ Educate students on taking a proactive action against bullying.
▪ Promote communication skills and leadership qualities in students.
▪ Bring students, teachers, administrators, and school resource officers closer together, thus developing and strengthening the bond of trust.
YCW also features McGruff the Crime Dog in many elementary school events, serving close to 30,000 students on an annual basis via presentations, assemblies and club meetings. The crime watch group also provides science-based effective crime prevention materials to school representatives and students so the education can be reinforced in classroom activities. YCW Weekly Award recipients (students, advisors, schools, school resource officers) are also recognized.
For more information on Youth Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County visit youthcrimewatch-miamidade.org or call 305-468-1302
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.