The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a bill that zeroed out funding for the CDC’s Youth Violence Prevention activities—suddenly and without input. Elimination of this $19.7 million in funding will have a devastating impact on efforts to prevent violence across the country and compromise decades of work. It is critical that everyone working in community prevention, violence prevention and safe and healthy communities reach out to their Senators—today—and tell them the health and vitality of our communities depends on putting the youth violence prevention funding back in the budget.
A public health approach to preventing violence stops violence before it ever occurs. This CDC money currently funds research to develop best practices, community violence prevention efforts and the Urban Network to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY), Prevention Institute’s work with large cities across the country to prevent violence. Though the Appropriations recommendations support important priorities, such as job skills, Promise Neighborhoods and community transformation programs, none of these can be fully actualized if our young people are not safe.
Instead of simply ‘treating’ violence one arrest at a time, the CDC’s public health approach hones in on what causes violence: it engages youth to create new opportunities for participation, leadership and economic opportunity, and dismantles barriers to peaceful streets and connected neighbors. Eliminating this funding takes public health expertise out of the conversation and leaves solutions solely in the hands of criminal justice. Without funding and support, violence prevention interventions will default back to an emphasis on arrest and imprisonment. This is unacceptable.
A prevention approach is grounded in the knowledge that violence is preventable, not inevitable. But without this funding in place, advocates will be limited in our ability to bring the peace, connection and community that all of our neighborhoods deserve. Make a call today and tell your senator to put youth prevention funding back into our budget. Please share this information with your networks and ask them to get involved in protecting youth violence prevention funding.