300 youth targeted in anti-gang pilot project
One of the largest anti-gang initiatives the city has ever undertakenwill roll out this summer, aimed at steering at-risk youths into jobsand school.
One of the largest anti-gang initiatives the city has ever undertaken will roll out this summer, aimed at steering at-risk youths into jobs and school.
The pilot project — Ottawa will provide just under $5 million in funding — will offer intensive case management for 300 youths ages 13 to 24 from three Toronto communities where gangs are a problem: Jane and Finch, Jamestown-Rexdale and Weston-Mount Dennis.
Criminologist Scot Wortley, who has spent a lot of time interviewing local gang members about what attracts them to that criminal lifestyle, will evaluate the effectiveness of the project, which will be detailed at city hall Friday.
“The youths we select will already be gang-involved or on the verge of joining a gang,” Wortley said.
They’ll learn about conflict resolution, anger management, goal setting, avoiding drug abuse, and the impact of crime on victims and neighbourhoods.
Staff will work with them individually to broaden their job and educational opportunities.
In selecting the three communities, city staff worked closely with Wortley to develop an assessment tool called the Toronto Youth Crime Risk Index, which identified the most needy areas in terms of high percentage of youths, high poverty and unemployment, lack of community services and high incidence of violent crime.