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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Strengthening Families: A Preliminary Report Regarding Youth Violence on the South Coast

  • Author(s): Gutierrez-Jones, Carl
  • et al.

As the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury noted in its June 16, 2008 report on anti-gang efforts, approximately 90% of South Coast gang activity involves Latinos. This situation compels a thorough analysis of the factors that contribute to gang formation in local Latino communities. As regards youth violence prevention, research directs our attention to Latino families in particular, not because these families are inherently deficient or dysfunctional, but rather because they may be strongly impacted by economic hardship and may be underserved by local institutions. This report collects the thoughts of fifty local leaders, program administrators, and service providers, all of whom were asked to offer their ideas regarding how to reduce gang violence, and how to more productively engage Latino families in the process. As this report demonstrates, many local leaders who work closely with the Latino communities on the South Coast believe that strengthening Latino families will need to be a top priority if headway is to be made in preventing youth violence. This report suggests that anti-gang programs and services be initiated, maintained and evaluated with this priority in mind.

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