Senator Robach and Senator Maziarz announced today that they will be hosting a public hearing on Friday, October 12th, titled ‘Keeping Kids On The Right Track’ – strategies to help at risk youth avoid dropping out of school and becoming part of the growing problem of youth violence.
Senator Robach stated "With the growing trend of violence in the Rochester area, it is critically important to keep our youth off the streets and in schools. I was happy to help spearhead several initiatives in the City, like the Summer of Opportunity Program and a truancy program, but much more needs to be done; and it will take community leaders, school officials, and legislators working togther to make a real difference."
Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) said, "The earlier in life that young people get on the right track, the better off they are and the better off our entire community will be. We need to find ways to help young people realize that they can indeed have a bright future, no matter what obstacles stand in their way. I look forward to hearing from leaders in the Rochester area who deal with these challenges on a day-to-day basis to see how we can work together to instill hope, self-respect, and a commitment to excellence in our youth."
The Senators will be joined by panelists from both the City and the County and will be hearing testimony from a variety of community leaders specializing in youth education and development. Witnesses include Rochester City School District Superintendent William Cala, CEO of Hillside Family of Agencies Dennis Richardson, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester Dwayne Mahoney, representatives for Fight Crime Invest in Kids, NY, the Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester Jeff Newland, Executive Director of the YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County Jean Carroll and several others.
Senator Robach continued, "I am happy to bring together a wide variety of experts - from school officials to law enforcement to social service organizations - to hear testimony and to find out what is working and what is not. It is our hope that at the conclusion of this hearing we will have some solid suggestions of what we can do at the state level to help kids stay on the right track."
According to 2004 statistics, nearly 5,000 youth, ages 10 through 19, were arrested for a violent crime in New York State, not including New York City. Violence by young people is one of the most visible and troubling forms of violence in society. Across this nation and throughout New York State, newspapers and the broadcast media report daily on violence by gangs, in schools or by young people in our communities. The main victims and perpetrators of youth violence are themselves adolescents and young adults.
The problem of youth violence cannot be viewed in isolation from other distressing behaviors. Violent young people also often display other concerns, such as truancy and dropping out of school and substance abuse. The criminal justice system alone cannot end youth violence, we need to explore options that can prevent young people from becoming part of the youth violence problem.
Dropping out of school is associated with a number of adverse behaviors in young people. High percentages of young dropouts are often not part of the labor force. The rate of engagement in high-risk behaviors such as early pregnancy, delinquency, crime, violence, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide has found to be significantly higher among dropouts. In addition, dropouts make up nearly half the prison population
The hearing will be held at the Monroe County Office Building (4th Floor, Rm. 406) 39 West Main Street, Rochester, NY 14614 from 9am to 5pm.