Academic Achievement and Violence Free Zones

Lindsey Burke /

On Monday, Bob Woodson and his team of youth mentors, along with school administrators, law enforcement and government leaders, held a summit on youth violence and the success of Woodson’s Violence Free Zones. Those in attendance at the Washington, D.C. conference testified to the efficacy of Violence Free Zones, citing a 32 percent reduction in violent incidents in Milwaukee Public Schools, a reduction in car thefts of more than 60 percent around high schools in Richmond, Virginia, and in general, a reduction in violence, suspensions, and disruptions in schools.

Violence Free Zones staff train youth mentors who come from the same cultural zip code as the children they are trying to help – many of whom are involved in gang activity and drug use. Bob Woodson, President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, writes:

School systems rely almost exclusively upon metal detectors, cameras, and security guards or police to secure the schools. While these external approaches have their place, they are limited in the control they can exert. They may suppress some behaviors, but they do not confront the causes of those behaviors.