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SD Unified, District Attorney partnering on youth programs in schools

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Unified School District has voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting the District Attorney’s Youth Advisory Boards and other DA initiatives aimed at breaking the cycle of gang violence, helping students make good decisions, and improving the safety of schools in San Diego.

“As District Attorney and as a former judge, I’ve seen the direct link between students who drop out of school and defendants who end up in prison. Our programs are working to keep students on the right track and we’ve already seen some inspiring success stories from our Youth Advisory Boards,” Dumanis said.

“Helping our kids get the best educational opportunities available continues to be a personal focus of mine and an area where the DA’s Office has an important role to play.”

The District Attorney’s Office is working with San Diego Unified’s Race and Human Relations Department and other school leaders to establish more Youth Advisory Boards (YAB) in specific schools.

“The Youth Advisory Board has had a positive impact on many students at Lincoln and Morse High schools by helping students to maintain a focus on the importance of education in their lives,” said Shelia Jackson, school board trustee. “The Board of Education values this partnership with the District Attorney and our students will continue to benefit from the work of Youth Advisory Boards.”

The DA’s first Youth Advisory Board was created in 2008 to allow students to address pressing issues affecting young people in San Diego County and work toward a positive change throughout the community. The first schools with YABs were Morse and Lincoln High Schools. As part of the program, the students wrote and produced an Emmy-winning short film, “4 or 40: The Choice is Yours.” The film continues to be used during presentations to students across San Diego County.

“The District Attorney’s Youth Advisory Boards provide positive mentoring to our students and helps them to make the right choices about their futures,” said Bill Kowba, superintendent. We look forward to continuing and expanding this partnership to keep our students in school and away from the negative consequences of gangs and crime.”

More recently, the DA’s Office partnered with City Schools to conduct crime mapping in an effort to learn more about the types and amount of crime occurring around San Diego schools. Results showed higher concentrations of crime around schools in central San Diego, southeast San Diego and Mira Mesa. As a result, preventative programs like the Youth Advisory Board plan to be offered at schools in those areas first.

The District Attorney’s Office is also working to provide schools with its Girls Only Toolkit. The DA, in partnership with the City of San Diego Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention (CGPI), crafted a new educational curriculum called “Girls Only,” designed to prevent young girls from becoming involved in gangs and prostitution, will now be offered countywide. The curriculum promotes self-esteem, develops healthy coping skills and inspires positive motivation.

The innovative education toolkit focuses on girls ages 8 to 12 and works to empower girls before they enter their difficult teenage years. The program provides a forum for young girls, giving them the opportunity to find alternatives to the kinds of abusive relationships that often lead to involvement with gangs, substance abuse and, eventually, the criminal justice system.