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Filling Empty Seats
School absences are a widespread problem in New York City. In 2013–14, almost one in five NYC elementary students missed 20 days or more. Absenteeism is an even bigger problem among homeless students, with nearly 16,000 of the more than 43,000 homeless children in grades K–5 chronically absent in 2013–14. This report looks at school mobility, absenteeism, and academic performance.

Healthy Starts Make for Better Futures
Nurturing, stable caretakers and relationships; good nutrition and health; positive learning experiences; and a safe home and surroundings can do great things for a child's development. Conversely, long-term stress and negative experiences may put kids at risk for physical and mental health problems. A Healthy Early Childhood Action Plan: Policies for a Lifetime of Well-Being recommends a public health approach to ensuring a positive early childhood, including ways to reduce toxic stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences.

State Laws and Trends: Juvenile Justice
Juvenile justice reform legislation is growing and changing, favoring more evidence-based and cost-effective alternatives to incarceration. Trends in Juvenile Justice State Legislation 2011–2015 examines state legislative activity on justice issues, and catalogs the volume and variety of enacted legislation. Trends have emerged to restore jurisdiction to the juvenile court, divert youth from the justice system, put more resources into community-based alternatives, and better respond to young offenders' mental health needs.

Defending Childhood Evaluation
An Outcome Evaluation of the Defending Childhood Demonstration Program highlights process evaluation findings from participating sites: Boston, Mass.; the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Reservation (Mt.); Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Grand Forks, N.D.; the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (S.D.); and Shelby County, Tenn. Researchers collected surveys and data to determine the impact of training and community awareness campaigns on children's exposure to violence. The results show positive outcomes in understanding violence, greater awareness of available services, and increased knowledge of children's exposure to violence and evidence-based practices.

Boston Recognized for Violence Prevention
This year, the Big Cities Health Inventory recognized Boston for improving public health outcomes. The city fared well on many physical health indicators, reporting lower diabetes, heart, and cancer mortality rates. Boston was also featured in a case study for its efforts to reduce and prevent violence with trauma-informed approaches. Nonfatal assault–related gunshots and stabbings have fallen since 2008, homicide rates have decreased by 16 percent, and violent crime overall has decreased by 9 percent.

Chicago Woman Offers Safe Haven
Diane Latiker is an activist and mother who believes in first listening to, then fulfilling, the needs of neighborhood children, whether it's a winter coat or ride to school. She runs Kids Off the Block, a small organization that provides tutoring, mentoring, and conflict resolution. Most important to Latiker is reaching children on a personal level. "Because the only way to help them," she says, "is to realize they have a life worth living."

Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative Reaches New States
OJJDP awarded $2.2 million to expand its Smart on Juvenile Justice initiative to South Dakota and West Virginia. The effort supports grant programs that promote juvenile justice reform, provide training and technical assistance to prosecutors, address systemic racial and ethnic disparities, and improve the quality of indigent defense. The new funding will also provide ongoing support for Georgia, Hawaii, and Kentucky.

Louisville Youth Speak Up About Recent Violence
Homicide rates are climbing to record numbers in Metro Louisville. The city's young people are devastated by continuing crime but say it will take "a community" to make a change. Kewahianna Reynolds, 14, and Traviounna Tyus, 12, have both been victimized by neighborhood violence. They joined Hood2Hood, created by a community activist to weaken the violence and ensure young voices are heard.

A Social Media Solution to Violence
With $5.7 million in funding, the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Services will build a Youth Violence Prevention Research Center. Intentional injury is the leading cause of death among 10-to-24-year-olds in Kentucky, and West Louisville youth in particular are greatly affected by the violence. Center researchers plan to develop, implement, and evaluate a community-level mass and social media campaign that aims to change social norms. Six young people will assist with campaign development.

Long Beach Residents Mourn Anti-Transgender Violence Victims
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 22 transgender or gender-nonconforming people were murdered this year. That number almost doubles the 12 killed in 2014. Fifty Long Beach, Calif., residents gathered in November for a candlelit ceremony held in remembrance of lives lost to anti-transgender violence.
Other Resources

Police–Youth Dialogues Toolkit
The Guide for Improving Relationships and Public Safety Through Engagement and Conversation is a toolkit for police officers, community leaders, service providers, and others working to build and maintain trusting relationships between young people and police officers. With a focus on positive and open communication, the toolkit highlights some of the most successful strategies for organizing, implementing, and sustaining effective practices and programs.

Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program
This two-page profile provides an overview of the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program. It contains summaries of various relevant topics, including the rights of eligible children and youth, funding for states and school districts, homeless student enrollment data, and program contact information.

Toolkit for Addressing High-Risk Behaviors
A new Web-based toolkit designed for college student leaders to control dangerous drinking and sexual behaviors is under development. The American Institutes for Research is looking for pilot schools and students to review and provide input on the toolkit. Contact Thomas Workman, Ph.D., for more information.

National Resource Center on School–Justice Partnership
This center is a hub for resources, training, and technical assistance that support school discipline reforms and reduce the school-to-juvenile justice pathway. The center will provide information on evidence-based practices, alternatives to arrest and formal court processing, and applications of current research.

Contact Us
Send questions or feedback about the newsletter to or Bass Zanjani, project director, at

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The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Newsletter is prepared under Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Cooperative Agreement No. 2012–MU–FX–K009 with Development Services Group, Inc. The views, opinions, and content of this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of OJJDP.