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Orange County Focus

IRVINE : Report on Youth Violence Praised

May 28, 1993|SHELBY GRAD

City and school district officials have praised a new report on youth violence in Irvine and vowed to enact many of its more than 50 recommendations.

The Safe Community Task Force report was presented Wednesday night during a joint session of the Irvine City Council and Irvine Unified School District Board of Education.

The task force of residents, teachers, students and city officials looked at a variety of factors that might cause youth violence, from an unstable family life and lack of after-school activities to racial prejudice and the availability of guns.

While the report stressed that most Irvine youths obey the law and stay out of trouble, it acknowledged that some teen-agers have turned to "anti-social peer groups" such as gangs and sometimes engage in "violent and destructive" behavior.

"Many children in our community come from homes where violence is accepted as an ongoing method of problem-solving and discipline," the report stated. "Many more children in our community witness with regularity acts of brutality and mayhem in the movies and on television."

The task force suggested new school curriculum that admonishes against violence as a way of solving problems. The panel also called on cable television companies to look into giving parents more freedom in deciding which cable channels they allow in their homes.

A significant security problem facing Irvine schools comes from non-students who enter campus during the day. "Often, these visitors' purposes have disrupted the educational environment (and) have required the attention of campus supervisors . . . and police officers," the report states.

To reduce the presence of outsiders, the report suggested tightening access to some schools and designing future campuses with security in mind.

The report also called on the Irvine Police Department to beef up campus patrols and to establish a youth crimes investigation unit. The department was also asked to encourage students to use the city's WeTip hot line to report youths who bring weapons to school.

The ethnic and cultural diversity of Irvine is not in itself a cause of youth violence, the report found. But task force members said intolerance and prejudice do "contribute to the risk of violence."

To curb that problem, the task force urged community groups to sponsor intercultural activities and that "all forms of bigotry manifested in the home, school and community environment" be denounced.

The report did not estimate the costs of implementation, and some task force members admitted that it will require more than public money to follow through on the report.

"It's going to take a new strategy involving the private sector and the community," said Greg Smith, a task force member.

Both the City Council and the school board are scheduled to take a closer look at the report soon.

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