Youth violence program extending to five pilot communities

A Minneapolis program that's been successful in preventing youth violence will grow to five pilot communities around the state.

The Minneapolis Blueprint, as it's called, attempts to work proactively to identify kids in need and pull them into services that can help them improve their behavior and break bad habits.

Mayor R.T. Rybak said the program has helped juvenile crime drop by 37 percent in Minneapolis in the past two years.

"One of the keys to that has been our work with our curfew truancy intervention," Rybak said. "We have dramatically stepped up the intervention with kids when they miss school or are out too late. Bring them to our truancy supervision center and 80 percent of the kids who come there never come back because they're tied to support services that address those issues."

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Roger Lynn of the Lakes Area Restorative Justice Project said they plan to use a version of the program in Brainerd to deal with some of the issues they face.

"We have serious problems with bullying in the schools, with bad relationships which lead to sexual abuse and pregnancies," Lynn said. "And then also alcohol and drug abuse."

The Minneapolis Blueprint programs aims to connect every juvenile in trouble with an adult mentor. Intervention occurs early on to prevent the onset of violent behavior.

Officials in Crow Wing County said they've already developed a program based on the Minneapolis model.

A state law encourages partnerships between local communities throughout Minnesota to develop community-based violence prevention programs.