There have been many sad issues regarding our youth. Joel Mesa, education director at Citizen’s Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County, has written about the schools’ Youth Crime Watch program to inform parents about what is available for their kids.
An educational program established to foster a safe school environment impacting student well-being through awareness and involvement, Youth Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County 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-12.
Youth Crime Watch was established to help young people develop proactive strategies to create safe schools for all students. It is a school-wide extracurricular program that functions as a club or group. Coordinators work with school advisers and students to help each club or group develop and tailor their programs to meet the needs unique to their own schools. Youth Crime Watch works very closely with the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, which funds part of the program. Starting a program in a school does not signal a problem. Instead, it seeks to prevent crime and violence from happening in the school’s environment.
The Youth Crime Watch program encourages positive peer pressure among students to take pride in their school through its series of crime prevention training and action projects. The 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, again curbing misbehavior, crime and violence in the school.
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School coordinators are certified by Florida Attorney General Office crime prevention practitioners and are available to conduct implementation trainings and crime prevention presentations. 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 and sexting 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 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.
Youth Crime Watch 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 program also provides science-based effective crime prevention materials to school representatives and students so the education can be reinforced in classroom activities. Youth Crime Watch Weekly Award recipients (students, advisers, schools, school resource officers) are recognized each week.
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.