More than 200 community leaders, activists and high school students met Thursday for the city's first Kids' Summit, a forum to tackle youth problems by finding and implementing solutions.
"We need to address some of the problems of kids--kids who drop out of school, commit crimes," Police Chief Steven H. Staveley, a summit organizer, said. "Everybody's responsible."
Another organizer, Gregory Kind, La Habra's director of community services, said that 80% of the perpetrators of crimes nationwide are between the ages of 12 and 22. "Somewhere along the line, we're failing in our society to pick up the issues and the needs of our youths."
Summit attendants, who broke into groups of 30, came up with several plans of action to curb youth violence and other issues.
One suggestion was to create programs and activities that "put values, respect and community pride into the minds of our young people," Kind said.
Marilyn Buchi, a trustee of Fullerton Joint Union High School District, said her group developed a plan to create an after-school activity center where volunteers could tutor students and offer games, sports, fine arts and computer training.
What became evident by the end of the four-hour summit was that many youth programs already exist, sponsored by service organizations, schools, churches and civic groups. Cooperation is the key to making them work, summit participants said.
"A good first step will be for us to pool the resources we already have," Kind said. "We have got to work together."