“A coalition of government and law enforcement agencies, local nonprofits, and business and education groups, including the Miami-Dade public school district, has announced an innovative and potentially controversial new effort to stem the bloodshed: using data to identify and help at-risk children before they become statistics,” miamiherald.com reports.
The newly formed “Together for Children” coalition identified 20 zip codes with high rates of violent crimes — especially but not limited to incidents of “gun violence.” And then drilled down further . . .
Out of the children who attend school in these zip codes, the coalition has identified roughly 2,000 individual students at high risk of getting caught up in the cycle of violence.
That determination was based on six benchmarks the coalition analysis found were often associated with youth violence: poor school attendance, behavioral issues, low standardized test scores in math and reading as well as math and reading classroom skills that lag behind grade level.
The 2,000 students, whose identities the school district says will be kept strictly confidential, all have at least four of the risk factors. Under the coalition plan, which could be tweaked after a series of up-coming community workshops, those kids will be referred to extra support services, such as truancy prevention and therapy programs.
A smaller group of 127 students, whose family situations already are being monitored by the Florida Department of Children and Families in addition to meeting at least four of the six criteria, have been identified as the highest-risk group of all.
So the government is singling out kids for taxpayer-funded pre-crime prevention programs to prevent “gun violence.” What could possibly go wrong?
While the coalition has yet to collect community feedback, [ED: !] there are likely to be questions about privacy and potentially stigmatizing some students, schools or communities. Carvalho also acknowledged that some residents might be wary of the idea of a partnership between the school district and law enforcement agencies.
He stressed that the district will not share the list of at-risk youth or other sensitive data collected as part of the initiative with law enforcement agencies. “It is not lost to us that the issue of trust, which applies to all governmental institutions, must be addressed if we are to honestly and deliberately take on the issue of youth violence,” he said.
Shirley Johnson, president of the NAACP’s Miami-Dade branch, said she is concerned that the children on the list might still be stigmatized. “Our children are very smart and they know when they are separated, they know when they are segregated, they are very, very knowledgeable, they know a lot of the things that we don’t know,” she said.
Needless to say, the article waves the bloody shirt to “explain” (i.e. promote) the Together for Children police/school system partnership. The Herald piece ends in the usual “do it for the children” fashion.
So far, 2016 has been a grim year for shooting deaths.
By early March, ten young people under the age of 20 had already been killed in Miami-Dade — the equivalent of one young life lost every week. Most of the victims were teenagers, but the shooting deaths of younger children have also taken a heartbreaking toll on local communities.
In the past decade, at least 19 children under the age of 13 have been killed by guns in the county.
Last week, 8-year-old Jada Page was shot in the head shortly after beginning fourth grade and died at the hospital two days later. Two teenagers, Isaiah Solomon, 15, and Antquinisha Flowers, 18, were also killed during the first two weeks of school, and another, 17-year-old Arthur Mann, was wounded.
Missing from the report: any mention of gangs. Or gang prevention. Or criminal prosecution of gang members. Or gang intervention. Just so you know, Miami-Dade has one of the highest gang populations in America, the highest in the Southeast, and the second highest on the entire East Coast. In case you didn’t know, there’s your trouble.