Click here to register for the 2013 Washington State Becca Conference
October 7 and 8, 2013 at the Hilton Vancouver Washington
The 2013 Washington State Becca Conference is hosted by Clark County and will highlight their Restorative Approach to Truancy as well as other Becca reforms across the state. Topics will include:
Check-in and registration begins at 9:30am on October 7th. Programming begins at 10:30am and runs until 5pm. Programming begins at 8am on October 8th and ends at 3pm.
Register before September 20, 2013 to receive the early-bird $100 pricing. After September 20, 2013 prices go up to $115.
It is with great pleasure that we announce the keynote speakers for the 2013 Washington State Becca Conference: James Bell and Kristine Buffington. Mr. Bell is the Founder and Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute and will be presenting the morning of October 8th on the issue of racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and the values of restorative justice. Ms. Buffington is an experienced trainer on best practices in trauma informed care and will be presenting on October 7th. Please see their bios below for more information on each speaker.
Kristine Buffington is a cum laude graduate of Eastern Michigan University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Western Michigan University. She has 28 years of experience in the field of social work as a case manager, clinical therapist, agency administrator, and a national trainer and consultant regarding issues of child traumatic stress and trauma-informed care. She is an affiliate member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and has been a participant and chair of a number of national and state level committees to address traumatic stress, child welfare, and juvenile justice issues. Her current focus is to advocate for trauma-informed care system transformation. She believes that saving a youth and their education is about saving lives, and how critical it is to look at the role of traumatic stress when addressing these issues.
James Bell is the Founder and Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute.
Since 2001, Mr. Bell has been spearheading a national movement to address racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. The BI, which is named after civil rights pioneer W. Haywood Burns, was recently awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The award is presented to select organizations worldwide that have made a “remarkable impact in their fields.”
Mr. Bell and his colleagues at the BI work with juvenile justice systems across the country to reduce the disproportionality of youth of color. Mr. Bell guides the BI's Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY), a national network of programs working successfully with young people of color. Mr. Bell also works closely with the Casey Foundation’s JDAI jurisdictions and the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative.
Mr. Bell is being recognized this year for his “profound contribution to human rights,” by the American Education Research Association Human Rights Award Committee, which has selected him to receive the second annual Ella Baker/Septima Clark Human Rights Award.
Mr. Bell has appeared on Nightline and the Tavis Smiley show. He also authored the Unequal Justice section of the Covenant with Black America, a national plan of action to address the primary concerns of African Americans today by Tavis Smiley, as well as the Criminal Justice Policy Paper for the National Black/Latino Summit.
Mr. Bell has extensive experience in the international juvenile justice arena: He assisted the African National Congress in the administration of the juvenile justice system in South Africa; recently worked with Chinese officials and policymakers on alternatives for proven risk youth moving from the countryside to the cities; and worked closely with officials in New Zealand and Australia to analyze the principles and practices that form the foundation of their restorative justice systems.
Mr. Bell is the recipient of a Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship, the Livingstone Hall Award from the American Bar Association, Attorney of the Year from the Charles Houston Bar Association, the Advocate of the Year from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Moral Leadership Against Injustice Award of the Delancey Street Foundation and the Local Hero Award from the San Francisco Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award.
He received his J.D. from Hastings College of the Law.
Mark your calendars for the Keeping Our Kids Safe Conference, slated for October 11-12 at Clark College, and featuring keynote speaker Fabian Debora, an artist and mentor at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Learn to understand, recognize and prevent problems such as youth gangs, suicide, substance abuse and sexual exploitation. This conference also includes presentations on effective communication with teens, adverse childhood experiences, youth mental health first aid, and more. For more information or to register, please visit www.safecommunitiestaskforce.org or call 360-906-9132.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and YWCA Clark County is hosting a series of events to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate local communities on prevention. For details, please visit the YWCA website at http://ywcaclarkcounty.com/archives/3589.
The following editorial was printed in The Columbian on Sunday, March 24, 2013:
Gang activity has existed in Clark County for at least the last 20 years and has been increasing in recent years as the economy has worsened. From 2004-2006, the Vancouver Police Department recorded an average of 125 gang-related offenses per year; during the next five years, the average increased to more than 500 per year.
A recent report (Gang Assessment) authored by Professor Clay Mosher of Washington State University Vancouver and funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance found "a significant gang presence [in Clark County], which includes Caucasian gangs, Latino gangs, African-American gangs, as well as several others." (The report can be accessed online at Safe Communities Task Force.
The increase in gang activity has corresponded with an increase in the commission of violent acts. As gangs grow, local rivalries heat up and conflicts escalate. Fights between gang members have erupted in our parks and schools. When fistfights don't deliver the intended message, knives, guns or weapons of convenience are used.
In drawing attention to this issue, the intent is not to be alarmist, but rather to educate. A survey included in the Gang Assessment showed that one-third of residents don't believe gangs are present in our community. It is understandable that some residents would be oblivious — the gang problem does disproportionately impact certain areas of the county. However, the report showed that there isn't an area in Vancouver that is not impacted by gang crime — even the least gang-impacted of Vancouver's 16 police beats still averages nearly 10 gang crimes per year.
To be fair, the gang problem in Clark County is not as serious as it is in other places around the country and even in our own state. But while there is danger in overstating the problem, there is an even greater danger in dismissing it. By ignoring it, it grows.
Gangs have been a problem in the United States for decades. As a result, an impressive body of research has been generated to help communities effectively address gangs, avoiding policies and programs that don't work. We, as a community, must take advantage of this accumulated knowledge.
Avoid demonizationWe know that gangs take root when our core institutions — families, schools, and economic systems — function poorly. We live in a community that functions relatively well in these areas, but it's not working for everyone. There are too many young people who do not enjoy the advantages of a stable family life, there are others who struggle in school, and a large proportion of gang-involved youth are characterized by high levels of adverse childhood experiences (parental incarceration, substance abuse, physical and emotional abuse, and domestic violence, etc.). We must guard against demonizing gang-involved youth — many of them are looking for a place to fit in, a place where they will feel loved, a place where they are important.
As a community, we must address the root causes of gangs if we are going to curb the growing problem. Families need our support. Schools and after-school programs need our support as well. A community our size should have at least one gang outreach program (we currently have none). We need a more coordinated effort in mentoring gang-affected youth; we should have intervention programs in our most at-risk schools.
The community resident survey included in the Gang Assessment revealed that most see gangs as primarily a law enforcement issue. While it is fair to expect the police to respond to crimes committed by youth gang members, it is not reasonable to expect them to address the complex and varying reasons that lead young people to gangs in the first place. As Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt commented, "Suppressing gang crime is a police issue; preventing it, intervening and supporting our youth is a community issue."
If you are interested in helping, attend your local neighborhood association meeting, volunteer at your local school, or contact the Safe Communities Task Force.
The Safe Communities Task Force is excited to announce the release of its comprehensive gang assessment, authored by Clay Mosher of WSU Vancouver and funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. For those who have been following the Safe Communities Task Force, it will come as no surprise that the report found "a significant gang presence, which includes Caucasian gangs (Juggalos and White Supremacist groups); Latino gangs (Nortenos, Surenos, etc.); African-American gangs (Bloods, Crips, etc.) as well as several others." The report also provides detailed information on the nature of crimes committed by local gangs, school-related data, community perceptions of the gang problem, and a review of available resources.
Over the past few days, a disturbing series of events has unfolded in our community. Last week, a small park on E 18th St in Vancouver called MyPark Neighborhood Park was completely covered by gang graffiti. A concerned resident brought it to the attention of the city, which promptly sent out a crew to clean up the mess. Over the weekend, the freshly cleaned park was tagged again - even worse than it was before. The same resident found the park covered in graffiti on Monday and while taking photos of the new vandalism, was approached by several gang-involved youth who attempted to intimidate her and another resident who was at the park. They retreated when the two women pulled out their cell phones and began taking pictures of them. Later that day, another crew of city workers was called out to the park to clean up the mess and were also approached by a group of youth, whose threats and intimidation caused the city workers to leave the park before the clean up could be done. In short, these gang members have crossed a line that will not be tolerated by our community. We must reclaim this park, and by extension, our entire community.
The city is currently making plans with law enforcement to ensure a safe park clean-up within the next 24 hours. By tomorrow evening, the park will be cleaned and ready to be reclaimed by the community. Therefore, I would like to invite you to join me, residents of the Maplewood Neighborhood, and other concerned citizens for a community potluck any time between 4 and 6pm tomorrow night at MyPark Neighborhood Park. Hot dogs and drinks will be provided by the Safe Communities Task Force; feel free to bring something to share or just come as you are to show your support. Physically and symbolically, we will take back this park and demonstrate that it is a safe place for the children and other residents of that community to congregate.
Clark County Juvenile Court, in partnership with the Safe Communities Task Force, was recently awarded a grant to implement a Gang Intervention Team. The project aims to address disproportionate minority contact with juvenile justice in Clark County by targeting gang-involved youth and providing them with services. Funding comes from the federal Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act Title II Formula Grants Program, which is administered by the Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice through its staff within the Office of Juvenile Justice, Department of Social and Health Services.The $57,000 grant begins in May and ends in December 2012. The Safe Communities Task Force is already working on sustaining the project beyond the grant period as part of its overall comprehensive plan to address youth gangs through a balanced approach of prevention, intervention and suppression.
Clark County's emerging gang problem and the Safe Communities Task Force response was recently featured on CVTV's "Close Up" program. Watch it online: http://www.cityofvancouver.us/cvtv/cvtvindex.asp?catID=999&titleID=2233