During the summit, the youth met with their members of Congress to discuss gang violence prevention. Teens visited the offices of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and others, to share powerful stories from their own lives and explain how gang violence has impacted them.
World Vision sees advocacy as an opportunity for teens to engage in structures and systems that have direct impact on their young lives, and that sets a pattern for civic involvement when they are adults.
"Sustainable change only happens when young people are empowered to be agents of transformation within their own communities," Deliberto explains.
While meeting with their members of Congress, the students shared their personal experiences and pressed the lawmakers to help prevent kids from joining gangs or committing crimes by addressing the root causes of youth violence.
Suggestions that the youth offered their legislators, as ways of keeping kids away from gangs and off the streets, included:
| ||Apart from this youth conference, World Vision also works with lawmakers to develop a more comprehensive approach to the widespread problem of gang violence.
"World Vision is working on the issue of gang violence because teens around the nation cite this as a critical issue affecting their well-being," says Deliberto.
"A focus on prevention is critical to addressing the root causes of why young people join gangs, and it enables them to make better choices for a more productive future. Prevention strategies involve the whole community, including youth themselves, in fostering hope and creating safer neighborhoods."
"Like a cancer, criminal street gangs have now spread throughout the United States, destroying neighborhoods, crippling families and killing innocent people as they expand," said Feinstein at the June 5 Judiciary Committee hearing. "Our gang problem is a national problem that requires a national solution."
World Vision is working with other nongovernmental organizations and partners on Capitol Hill to help ensure that the bill provides robust funding for prevention and intervention programs.
*This conference was supported by and produced with funds from Award No. 2005-JL-FX-0142 awarded by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
>> Read a day-by-day account of this year's Youth Empowerment Summit on the World Vision U.S. blog.
>> Pray for communities across the United States that are affected by gang violence. Pray that the participants of this year's Youth Empowerment Summit will take what they learned at the conference and apply it as they continue to advocate for these communities.
>> Donate to World Vision's U.S. programs.
|Read a day-by-day account of this year's Youth Empowerment Summit on the World Vision U.S. blog.|
Two Ways You Can Help
|Pray for communities across the United States that are affected by gang violence. Pray that the participants of this year's Youth Empowerment Summit will take what they learned at the conference and apply it as they continue to advocate for these communities.|
Donate to World Vision's U.S. programs.