Teens in the United States make-up almost half of all victims of violent crime over the age of 12. Teens from underserved populations, such as ethnic minorities and teens with disabilities, are often victimized at even higher rates than the general teen population. While most teens have limited access to qualified, age-appropriate victims services, teens from underserved populations have even fewer options. Often times, teens from underserved populations face additional challenges and barriers to accessing victim services.
The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and the Youth Initiative of the National Center for Victims of Crime discovered these gaps in victim services through their work on the Youth Outreach for Victim Assistance (YOVA) project. Building on the success of YOVA, we used the YOVA model to support organizations to develop outreach campaigns directed at populations of underserved teens.
About the Initiative
The NCPC and the Youth Initiative created the Underserved Teen Victims Initiative with these two goals in mind:
- To raise awareness of teen victimization and identify promising strategies for reaching and supporting underserved populations of teen victims.
- To build the capacity of victim service professionals to reach and support these underserved teen victims.
The project tapped into the creativity and energy of youth leaders and local organizations and supported them with a national network of training and technical assistance. Local teams generated culturally appropriate messages and strategies for raising awareness of victimization and supporting underserved populations of teens. Twenty-four project sites were selected to conduct outreach to underserved populations of young people, specifically:
- Asian and Pacific Islander
- American Indian
- Muslim and Arab
- Youth with disabilities
- Runaway youth
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans gender, queer, and questioning youth
Each local team:
- formed a team of youth and adults to design and implement a new campaign directed at one or more of the specified underserved population of teens;
- attended a two-and-a-half day training to build skills in developing effective teams and explore the dynamics of victimization and the challenges faced by underserved teen victims in getting support;and
- Planned and implemented a public outreach campaign to conduct outreach with information about victims’ rights and services to underserved populations of teen victims. These campaigns could be audio, video, or public service advertisements as well as producing resources, including brochures, palm cards, or tip sheets.