on School Violence and Kids from 2:00 to 8:00 pm

Statement by
Deedee Corradini
Mayor of Salt Lake City
President
The U.S. Conference
of Mayors


On September 24, 1998 the nation's mayors sponsored an historic National Summit on School Violence and Kids from 2:00 to 8:00 pm in Salt Lake City. In an emergency response to the recent spree of school shootings, an unparalleled group of concerned leaders came together for the first time to draft a National Action Plan. Participants included almost 60 members of The U.S. Conference of Mayors Leadership, several mayors from communities which have recently experienced devastating school shootings, over 15 police chiefs, elected representatives from the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and the National Parent/Teachers Association, students, top health, parks, recreation and arts officials, representatives from the entertainment industry and news media, and other national experts on youth violence.

Attorney General Janet Reno recognized the importance of this National Summit and came to Salt Lake City to hear from the mayors and other national leaders, and to participate in the drafting of the National Action Plan.

In addition to the recent school shootings, the National Summit highlighted alarming statistics regarding youth violence in America's cities--in our schools, in our neighborhoods and in our families:

  • A survey of 16,000 students found that four percent had skipped school in the past 30 days because they were afraid for their own safety.
  • An estimated one million children between the grades of 6 and 12 carried guns to school at some point in the last school year.
  • The rate of firearm deaths among children under 13 is nearly 12 times higher in the U.S. than in 25 other industrialized nations combined.
  • Almost 30 percent of all juvenile offenses are committed on school days, between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 pm.
  • Children watch an average of 28 hours of television each week, roughly twice the time they spend in school.
  • Before age 18, the average child will have witnessed over 200,000 violent acts on television, including 16,000 murders.
  • More than 60 percent of television programming contains violence.
  • 76 percent of children's programming portrays violence in a humorous context.

Prior to the National Summit, a call went out to all mayors requesting best practices on preventing school violence. The response was immediate and overwhelming. After meeting with local police and community leaders, over 125 mayors submitted in excess of 220 best practices. The resulting report, entitled Preventing School Violence: Best Practices of Mayors in Collaboration with the Police, Schools, and the Community, was developed with support from the COPS Office at the U.S. Department of Justice and released at the National Summit by the Conference of Mayors Best Practices Center.

During the Salt Lake City meeting, participants worked to develop our National Action Plan on School Violence and Kids from 2:00 to 8:00 pm which covers four critical areas: School Violence; Kids from 2:00 to 8:00 pm; Youth Violence and the News Media; and Youth Violence and the Entertainment Industry. The National Action Plan includes a call for:

  • 100,000 new school counselors, modeled on the successful COPS program -- a suggestion which was strongly supported by Attorney General Reno;

  • The formation of joint task forces of mayors with both entertainment industry and news media executives to address the proliferation of violence presented to our children;

  • A boycott against products whose commercials fund violent TV programs;
  • A comprehensive effort to reduce youth-related gun violence, including "one gun a month" limitations, personalization of guns, and increased gun-owner responsibility;

  • School uniforms as an effective means of promoting discipline and safer schools;

  • School systems to keep school facilities open before school, after school and on weekends to offer meaningful and safe programs for youth;

  • Increased after-school, summer job and school-to-career opportunities for youth;

  • Alternative schools for dropouts and others not able to learn in a typical school setting;

  • An all-out effort to reduce school truancy and provide a safe environment in schools;

  • Greater involvement of arts, music, parks and recreation officials in delivering youth services; and

  • Arts, music, physical fitness and sports programs as part of the school curriculum for all students.

On October 15, it was my honor to present this National Action Plan and the Best Practices report to President Clinton, Vice President Gore, Mrs. Clinton and a variety of distinguished participants in the White House Conference on School Safety. The National Action Plan was extremely well received by the President, who commended its comprehensive approach and credited the mayors' call for increased school counselors and the need to put arts, music, physical fitness and sports programs back in schools as a part of the curricula. The President also praised the Best Practices report as an important resource for mayors and others to learn what is already working in cities across the nation.

Following the White House Conference, participants in our National Summit in Salt Lake City were provided with an additional opportunity to refine the document, and it is my pleasure to present our final National Action Plan on School Violence and Kids from 2:00 to 8:00 pm.

Our objective now is to actively pursue the implementation of the proposals contained in the document. Many of the action items can be implemented by mayors working within their own cities, but others require a partnership with the states, the federal government, the private sector and non-profit entities. The nation's mayors are committed to the work before us, and look to you for your assistance in moving this critical national agenda forward.

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