• Sustained investment in strong communities.112
SCY’s approach attempts to fundamentally align youth development and
community safety outcomes.113 Explicitly linking resource availability and violence
prevention, SCY’s call for sustained investments in children, youth, and communities
could have major effects on population level stress reduction.114 By strengthening the
resources available to educational day cares, schools, community centers, and youth
mentoring programs, SCY’s advocacy efforts could help to change the opportunity
structure in neighborhoods where violence-involved identities are now far too
common.115 Similar arguments have also been promoted by the Adler School of
Psychology’s Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice (“IPSSJ”), which has called for
the reinvestment of juvenile detention dollars into community-based restorative justice
hubs.116 If realized, these calls would improve the reach and impact of those institutions
dedicated to positive childhood and youth development, thereby shifting the
environmental conditions in which adolescent trajectories are forged and social meanings
Moreover, any positive shift in the human development resources of high-violence communities will weaken the recruitment capacities of local street gangs.118 In
high-violence communities plagued with chronic disadvantage and social exclusion,
gangs provide a sense of security and acceptance to their members.119 Gangs recruit
113 SCY Concept Paper, STRENGTHENING CHI.’S YOUTH, http://www.scy-chicago.org/index.php/about/21-
scy-concept-paper (last visited Mar. 7, 2014).
114 The lack of many of these resources, particularly investment in youth and communities, equitable access
to mental health care, and a developmentally-appropriate juvenile justice system, perpetuates cycles of
poverty and trauma in communities. See supra Part III.
115 In many high-violence communities, the most appealing and accessible ways to make money or have
status may be to become involved in the drug trade or gangs. See supra Part III.A. However, the
investments proposed by SCY have the potential to change the opportunities for youth to earn money and
gain status in their communities.
116 CONCEPT PAPER, supra note 106, at 2–4.
117See Fergus McNeill et al., Inspiring Desistance? Art Projects and ‘What Works?’ 37 JUSTITIELE
VERKENNINGEN 80 (2011) (originally published in Dutch), for more on the identity-environment
relationship. The authors’ “Principle of Agency” concept asserts that individuals construct their own life
course through the choices and actions they take within the opportunities and constraints of history and
social circumstance. Id. at 4. As the article details, individuals seize opportunities to adopt new identities
when they are provided. Id. IPSSJ and SCY’s approaches both propose shifts in resources that provide
broader opportunities and choices for youth. CONCEPT PAPER, supra note 106, at 8; SCY Concept Paper,
supra note 113.
118 See Carl S. Taylor & Pamela R. Smith, The Attraction of Gangs: How Can We Reduce It?, in CHANGING
COURSE: PREVENTING GANG MEMBERSHIP 19, 23–27 (2013) (discussing the opportunities for positive
youth engagement and meaningful employment to decrease gang involvement); Jorja Leap, What Should
Be Done in the Community to Prevent Gang-Joining, in CHANGING COURSES: PREVENTING GANG
MEMBERSHIP 105, 106, 110 (2013) (describing the potential of positive mentoring to replace the
foundations of gangs).
119 Taylor & Smith, supra note 118, at 22; see also McNeill et al., supra note 117 (further exploring the
importance of identity and belonging); Adrienne Freng & Terrance Taylor, Race and Ethnicity: What are