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Stopping Youth Violence in America

Location: Washington, DC

STOPPING YOUTH VIOLENCE IN AMERICA -- (House of Representatives - December 13, 2007)

[Page: H15445]


The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Larson) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address an extraordinarily important issue, one that, quite frankly, is not often discussed on this very floor and needs in so many ways to be brought forward, not only to the attention of the Members of this body, but a dialogue that needs to reach out all across this country to discuss the devastating trends of youth violence. I am pleased to note that colleagues today, including Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Bobby Scott, Yvette Clarke, Donald Payne, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Linda Sánchez, will be coming to the floor under these 5-minute Special Orders to also address this issue of youth violence.

There isn't a day that goes by that we don't thank our veterans for the sacrifice that they have made and note the loss of life that has taken place in Iraq and in Afghanistan and the wounded. And we take great pride, and rightfully so, in this Chamber for making sure that we are providing for our veterans, providing especially for those that come home with post-traumatic stress syndrome, and addressing these concerns in a meaningful and significant way. And yet here in our own country, in our cities, in our suburbs, most recently out in Nebraska, violent deaths and shootings take place and seemingly go unnoticed.

John Lewis traveled with me to Hartford, Connecticut, to address there a group of citizens concerned about violence in the neighborhood, where in 2006, 16 shootings took place in a single week. At that hearing, a Vietnam veteran, Steven Harris, stood up and said, I appreciate what Congress is doing on behalf of veterans and providing them with post-traumatic stress syndrome relief. But what about the kids in my neighborhood who have to deal with this on a regular basis? What about the youth all across this country who are perishing?

There are incredible statistics, Mr. Speaker, that this body needs to discuss in a way that will send hope out to our communities and our neighborhoods. Homicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds overall. Homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans between the ages of 10 to 24 and the second leading cause of death for Hispanics of that age. Guns are a factor in most of these homicides.

In a nationwide survey of high school students, 6 percent reported not going to school on one or more days in the 30 days preceding the survey because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to and from school. Children who have witnessed violence in their communities are vulnerable to serious, long-term problems. This country stood and paused and we said the world had changed forever after September 11. But for grandmothers in their communities, the world had changed before that, because this kind of senseless violence continues.

This Nation, this Congress, must solve this problem. The problem cannot be addressed explicitly through incarceration. We have ample amounts of punitive measures that exist on our books today. What we don't have is a comprehensive approach to it, reaching out into these communities, assisting and helping and providing the plans such as Bobby Scott has outlined, ``From Cradle to College,'' that provide the hope, that provide the leadership for communities coming together in a manner in which they care about our children.

We are aware of what is happening all around the world, and we can come to this floor and chronicle it. But in our own cities, in our own States, we must begin to speak and save our children there.

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