Sunday, October 1, 2023

Armed violence: convincing young people to choose “another way of life”

MONTREAL — The Legault government and the city of Montreal will dedicate nearly $2 million over three years to a program aimed at convincing youth at risk of committing violent crimes to choose “another way of life.”

The PIVOT (Prevention and Intervention on Violence Observed in the Region) project will take an approach that uses both prevention and repression to encourage young people to leave the criminal environment. It is inspired by a similar program in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Support will be offered to young people who have already committed a crime to guide them towards another way of life,” explained Public Security Minister François Bonnardel at a press conference in Montreal on Monday. We want to show them that there are other options besides crime, that they can complete their studies, find a job or treat an addiction.

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On the other hand, the interventions will warn adolescents and young people about the consequences of crime. “The second axis aims to clearly communicate the consequences of violence and apply them quickly in case of violation. What that means is that we will meet with the offenders, the young people, to tell them that they are being monitored and that they will be arrested and punished again.”

This approach has borne fruit wherever it has been applied, says René-André Brisebois, speaker and researcher at the University Institute for Young People in Difficulty at the CIUSSS-Sud-de l’Île-de-Montréal Centre, whose organization participates in the program. . “Where it has been implemented, whether in the United States, Scotland or other parts of the world, we see, according to research, reductions of 33% to 50% in violent crime.”

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The program will target a limited number of young people, Brisebois responds. He mentions “about thirty, maybe forty” people. “If we are able to make a difference in the lives of one, two, three or four of these young people, it will make a huge difference,” she insists.

The intervention comes in a context in which gun violence is causing concern in Montreal. This problem is exacerbated by the illegal sale of weapons, the manufacture of weapons using 3D printers, the glorification of weapons and the feeling among some young people that they are necessary to protect themselves from possible attacks.

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The situation is improving, says Bonnardel, who emphasizes that the number of violent crimes is decreasing.

At the end of the summer, police authorities found that crime was declining by 30% this year in Montreal, while the number of firearms seizures had tripled, according to several media outlets. “It is a fight that has not been won, but we are moving forward,” the minister said on Monday.

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