Kid C.A.T. would like to thank its sponsors, volunteers, supporters and the San Quentin Prison administration for helping to make 2014 a successful year for the group’s mission and vision.
Accomplishments include “The Bay Area Hygiene Drive for Homeless Youth,” which collected more than 315 hygiene kits to be distributed to homeless families and youth, and “The Amala Walk,” which raised funds to sponsor youth from around the world to attend the Global Youth Peace Summit in Point Reyes National Seashore. (info@AmalaFoundation.org). The group also held the inaugural “Kid C.A.T. & The Beat Within” writing workshop in which men shared their personal stories of positive transformation in hope of deterring youth from destructive lifestyles (www.the beatwithin.org).
Looking forward, Kid C.A.T. will work to make 2015 one of its most successful years. As part of this goal, the group will introduce the first “The State of the Youth Address.”
Kid C.A.T. recognizes that the issues youth face are symptoms of a much greater disease that afflicts society – an affliction where society often shifts blame to youth for becoming ill in the first place.
In response to the illness – be it substance abuse or a rising crime rate – societal treatment takes the form of laws and policies that are meant to cure. Instead, these forms of treatment inadvertently marginalize and criminalize youth.
In California in the 1990s this approach made it possible to try minors as young as 14 as adults and sentence them to serve prison terms ranging from life (adding 6,500 new inmates to state prisons) and to life without parole (LWOP) (adding 300 more new inmates) under laws such as Proposition 21, the Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Act.
It is evident that these measures did not result in resolution. Instead, they culminated in the conditions that led state legislators to enact laws that seek to rectify the adverse impact of the legacy of tough-on-crime.
Kid C.A.T. understands that any social issues that impact all of society may overextend the available resources the state or any local government can allocate toward prevention and programs.
“Youth are more likely to join a gang than to be a member of a community service organization, to be incarcerated and placed on probation”
President Obama’s initiative, called “My Brother’s Keeper,” has a pledge of nearly $200 million for the next five years. It supports minority youth at nonprofits such as the 826 Valencia in San Francisco. The initiative backs underprivileged youth and private citizens that have invested millions of dollars and volunteer hours to be part of the solution.
The issues youth face are complex and evolve with technology and changing social structures that include cyber bullying; teen domestic violence; gangs; poverty; lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ); homelessness; and an increase in new and more addictive designer drugs.
These complex issues combine to create a toxic environment in which youth are more likely to join a gang than to be a member of a community service organization, to be incarcerated and placed on probation or under other government supervision such as in group homes or foster care. The implications are long-term, affecting youth beyond their teenage years into adulthood. When minors are tried as adults, this subjects them to an adult criminal record that may bar them from employment and education opportunities and voting rights for their entire life and may hinder them from moving beyond their past to lead productive and healthy adult lives.
Kid C.A.T. envisions a society that is safe and peaceful where homes and communities provide healthy and loving environments so that youth can grow into successful and mature adults. This is why to improve the state of youth, the public must be informed about the issues that affect their community. As a group that is dedicated to service, Kid C.A.T. encourages citizens to support local organizations and causes that serve to aid youth and families by donating to the local food bank or volunteering their time to local causes such as mentorship or tutoring programs.
According to its principles of mentorship, education and restorative practices, in 2015 Kid C.A.T. seeks to bring together all of the issues under the umbrella of Youth Justice Awareness Month (Y-Jam). This aims to have the month of October officially recognized as such in the state of California. This will encourage us all to Create Awareness Together. We wish you well in each of your endeavors.