What Is Toronto Planning to Do About Youth Violence?
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What Is Toronto Planning to Do About Youth Violence?

A City committee is poised to vote on recommendations contained in a major anti-violence report.

Tomorrow morning, the City’s Community Development and Recreation Committee will consider some long-awaited interventions intended to curb youth violence in Toronto. It’s been over five years since the provincial Roots of Youth Violence report urged the province, municipalities, and community stakeholders to merge and strengthen supports for marginalized young people.

During the years that followed—years marked by relative government inaction—the city has been the site of high-profile mass shootings on Danzig Street and at Toronto Eaton Centre, and seen a spike in the violent murders of children 16 years of age or younger.

The proposed Youth Equity Strategy includes broad consultation with vulnerable youth, arts programs, youth-focused community spaces, supports for youth in Toronto’s shelters, and dedicated staff to connect youth programs across various City departments. The plan also calls for a city council designate to lead the equity plan—Toronto has been lacking such a leader since the elimination of the City’s Youth Advocate position several years ago.

One of City’s major challenges in curbing youth violence is that most vulnerable young people do not access the programs and services designed to assist them. Staff hope to address this in part by “identifying specific service enhancements directed at those youth who are most vulnerable to involvement in serious violence and crime.”

If tomorrow’s motion on the equity strategy succeeds, the City will immediately begin to implement dozens of new anti-violence measures with existing funds; several more recommendations will require funding approval in 2015 and beyond.