One of the best ways to reduce crime in any neighborhood is to increase trust among the different generations. In addition, stereotypes surrounding local law enforcement and their encounters with teens cast a shadow over potentially beneficial partnerships. The more people collaborate to keep their neighborhood safe, the more successful the outcome.
Many youths, especially in underprivileged areas, are at a crossroads in their teenage years. Being a highly impressionable age group, when they aren’t in school, they spend their free time being influenced by family, friends, and the internet. Younger people on good terms with local police are less likely to view them as a group to fear or dislike. They are more likely to turn to them for guidance and less likely to fall victim to echo chambers on social media. Besides promoting education and supplying positive reinforcement, communities should provide low-cost or free creative outlets for young people to busy themselves. Some positive activities include public parks and memberships to recreation centers.
It is a continued philosophical debate that accountability makes people choose more ethical and moral decisions. Taking away anonymity and increasing the risk of consequences should act as a feasible deterrent in almost any situation, including neighborhood crime statistics. Many towns install technology such as street cameras, but the citizens are unaware they are being monitored. Keeping all of the roads well-lit should make it more challenging to commit a crime, but it mostly makes people feel more secure. The ultimate power lies within the members of the community itself.
Neighborhood watch programs have come a long way since their inception in the 1960s. Not only do groups use apps to communicate with fellow neighbors, but they are now able to involve local law enforcement groups in a symbiotic civilian-legal partnership. The more young people are engaged in helping their area, the less likely they are to be influenced negatively by outside sources.
The U.S. Department of Justice has a program specifically designed to engage youth to start their own school crime watch. Getting teens involved in positive campaigns early on is a great way to maintain their focus and interest as they continue to get older.