The City is Missing the Mark on Youth Crime Reduction in Philadelphia


The past few years the city of Philadelphia has been plagued by gun violence and many of the victims include youth under the age of 18. Data from the city has shown that since 2015 the number of homicide victims under 18 has doubled. Experts have warned that offenders are getting younger and are targeting people their own age as young people are still maturing and learning how to handle conflict. 

On Thursday, December 1st Philadelphia City Council voted to impose a permanent 10 p.m curfew for everyone under the age of 18. The City enforced a 10 p.m curfew from a previous 12 a.m curfew over the summer and despite their efforts more children were shot this summer than any other summer on record. Philadelphia Police are incharge of enforcing the curfew. Police would first attempt to bring the child home, if a guardian can not be reached or they can not bring them home then they are taken to the police district or one the evening resource centers. 

Police are already very present in Philadelphia communities and increased police presence has not shown a reduction in crime. The investments in the Police Department total nearly $800 million, which is the most of any city agency.

While the City has attempted to implement community-based anti-violence programs as both a complement and sort of alternative to law enforcement, they too have not proven to be effective. The Community Crisis Intervention Program (CCIP) has, according to the Office of Violence Prevention, failed to meet basic goals for a variety of reasons. This program is meant to develop relationships with people at risk of shooting someone or getting shot. This program, however, is based on similar programs elsewhere which have been proven to have a real positive impact on violence in communities.

While the curfew is not necessarily harmful, there are several ways the the City of Philadelphia could focus their efforts on increasing the quality of life for young people. According to the NCSL studies have shown high quality afterschool programs can improve academic outcomes. Afterschool programs can reduce dropout rates, and may also reduce risky behavior in older youth. Students in Philadelphia deserve more access to after school programs involving sports, music, theater, science and more. Kids need an outlet outside of academics that encourages them to go to school every day. 

We know that poverty is largely linked to crime, and therefore poverty alleviation should be a main focus of violence prevention efforts. According to a study done by Brookings Institute, boys who grew up in families within the bottom 10 percent of income distribution were 20 times more likely to be incarcerated by their early 30s than those who lived in families with the highest income level.

Expanding on programs like the child tax credit is needed in order to reduce poverty and crime. The new 2021 U.S. Census Supplemental Poverty Measure report shows that the 2021 Child Tax Credit reduced child poverty by 46%. While this is on the federal level, the City can still take the initiative to expand access to free tax services and advice. The City must also continue to invest in poverty reduction efforts such as The Promise, a city wide initiative aiming to raise 100,000 Philadelphians out of poverty. Not only that, but strengthening the social services in the city will help lead to family stability.

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