Getting Started in the Community

Steps to Start the Program

Community based YCW programs may be in rural and suburban areas of single-family homes, in urban, multi-family and high-rise environments, or in local or regional parks and marine facilities. The key elements remain the same, adult guidance with strong youth involvement and leadership to reduce crime, violence and drug abuse in the targeted environment.

a. Establish the NEED for a Youth Crime Watch.

b. Determine who the Sparkplug/Advisor will be
In collaboration with the Housing or park Director and local law enforcement agency, look for the special individual (every community has one) who will be your Youth Crime Watch Sparkplug/Advisor. Keep in mind that this person must have a special rapport with young people and must have their trust. The sparkplug must be energetic person with abundant enthusiasm for the Youth Crime Watch concepts and program. In communities, housing complexes and parks with a police substation, an officer may be the advisor. In all situations police officers must play an important part in Youth Crime watch.

c. Meet with housing and park officials, community leaders, such as clergy, neighbourhood and business leaders, residents, and law enforcement representatives to begin to develop a Youth Crime Watch partnership.

Ask the Housing or parks Director to include parents in this meeting. Take this Handbook and other Youth Crime Watch materials with you. It is important to bring Youth Crime Watch representatives, police officers, and others who would be interested in seeing Youth Crime Watch established in the community.

Describe the steps necessary to set up the partnership, what you will do, and what the housing and/or parks Director can contribute. Emphasize the youth-run aspects of Youth Crime Watch and how a partnership will make housing and/or park officials and the entire community more successful in their work. Ask the Housing and/or parks Director to consult with parents and members of the community to support the Youth Crime Watch initiative, particularly the Advisor/Sparkplug.

d. Determine where meetings will be held.
Make location convenient for residents, but be sensitive to the personal security concerns they may have as this crime fighting initiative is first developing. Your housing and park Directors will be able to offer suggestions for a place to meet. You might select a vacant home, an unused Laundromat, a community center, an unused storage building, or possibly someone’s home. Unused buildings that are safe and secure offer a great opportunity for young people to get excited about forming their own partnership in their own surroundings. It gives them ownership in the program and helps get the program off to a great start.

e. Publicize the program throughout the school.
Make sure everyone in the community or neighbourhood knows that a Youth Crime Watch program is beginning. Give all chance to join early. Organize a means for young people to sign up; send explanations of Youth Crime Watch to homes in the area and ask for their participation.

f. Select the young people who will form the Crime Watch partnership.
There are several ways this may be accomplished. You can send out notices to each home inviting everyone to come. This will enable you to let the parents know of your intentions and ask their support. (If you offer popular refreshments, attendance will be enhanced). If you use this approach, you may later want to divide the young people into appropriate age groups.

Select young people who will form the Crime Watch Partnership. Example: young people ages 7-13 years old meet together one evening and young people ages 14-18 years old meet together at a different time. You may want to ask for a young person and an adult representative from each group of homes to attend your first meeting depending on the size of the community, the housing complex or park. You may want to send out notices asking young people to come and interview for the Crime Watch partnership (as if they were interviewing for a job). It’s important that this group be diverse, a good cross-section of all the young people in the community and free of a concentration factions.

g. Hold the first organizational meeting.
Set the time and date and hold the first Youth Crime Watch organizational meeting. You may hold it after school hours, any weekday or on weekends. The two essential items on this agenda will to discuss what the neighbourhood crime and drug problems are and to announce or discuss the upcoming election of Crime Watch Partnership officers. Some suggestions are:
- Conduct a Crime Watch installation ceremony.
- Establish a tip-reporting and general suggestion box.
- Identify the primary problems facing the community.
- Select startup activities.
- Form committees to carry out the activities agreed on.
- Make a calendar of startup events.
- Set the time and place of the next Crime Watch Partnership meeting.

h. Tell the adult community that Youth Crime Watch is starting.
Use posters, flyers, and personal contacts to inform the adult community surrounding the school that a Youth Crime Watch program is starting. Appeal to local corporations and businesses, and civic clubs (Rotary Optimists, Lions, etc) to become sponsors of Youth Crime Watch and to provide donations in the form of money or goods such as Youth Crime Watch T-shirts, buttons, badges, banners, discounts at youth-type activities, and other articles. Have the youth promote participation through community meetings, churches, media, community bulletin boards and talk shows.

i. Obtain sources of crime prevention information
Call local law enforcement agencies to see if they can provide you with materials, guest speakers, and liaison personnel. Call local service agencies for drug prevention materials. Compile lists of reference information, authorities, and community resources, and community health programs that are available.

j. Select the ongoing events and activities
These events may include regularly held educational programs, special events and contests. Some of these activities should be fun. They can reward positive action by your Youth Crime Watch members.

k. Consider becoming part of Youth Crime Watch of Nigeria
When you have organized your program, you are invited to become part of the nationwide network of Youth Crime Watch groups associated with Youth Crime Watch of Nigeria. By joining Youth Crime Watch of Nigeria you will benefit from the exchange of information and ideas in the newsletter. You will also be made aware of conference happenings and how to keep your Youth Crime Watch program alive, innovative, and exciting.

l. Maintain contact with Youth Crime Watch of America Headquarters.
Youth Crime Watch of America wants to be able to share ideas with you and learn of your activities, accomplishments, and problems. Of particular interest in the numbers of schools, students, and other participants you have, and any reports and articles that reveal statistics and stories on how your Youth Crime Watch program is functioning for you. This kind of information is needed to recognize you for efforts and to compile reports to send to others. Of course, you are encouraged to call any time with questions or requests for advice or assistance. It is recommended that you use the YCW logo and/or Casey on all materials used for publicity, information and education.