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Strategy: Involving Youth in Homeland Security

Youth are an enormous pool of energy, talent, and enthusiasm eager to contribute to society. In schools, neighborhoods, and . . .

Youth are an enormous pool of energy, talent, and enthusiasm eager to contribute to society. In schools, neighborhoods, and communities across the nation, many young people have made crime prevention a priority by finding ways to address safety issues, solve existing problems, and keep themselves from becoming victims of crime.

Young people can also help protect our nation by watching out and helping out right where they live and go to school through such programs as Neighborhood Watch, School Watch, and others. Like adults, children and teens respond to acts of terrorism with feelings of anger, shock, fear, and helplessness. And like adults, they can feel empowered by working to protect themselves and their families, to reduce the impact an emergency has on their lives, and to deal with the chaos if an incident does occur.

The American Red Cross has developed a new curriculum, Facing Fear: Helping Young People Deal With Terrorism and Tragic Events, for use in the classroom. It consists of ageappropriate lessons and activities for K-12 grade levels and contains preparedness information addressing both natural disasters and human-caused tragedies, including war and terrorism.

Facing Fear in printed form is available from your local American Red Cross chapter. To find your chapter, visit Lessons and activity sheets can be downloaded from the website.

The First Responders Team at the North Cache 8/9 Center, a school for 8th and 9th grades located in Richmond, Utah, has been an integral part of the school's Emergency Disaster Response Plan for two years. As part of their Youth Crime Watch of America (YCWA) program, students on the team are trained by staff members (who have completed the Community Emergency Response Team training provided by FEMA) to help with evacuation drills, critical injury management, and other emergency procedures in the event of a disaster.

North Cache 8/9 Center conducts monthly evacuation and lockdown (shelter-in-place) drills for the entire school. During the drills, First Responders wear special vests and assist teachers by showing students where to go, acting as "runners" to aid communication, and assisting with traffic. When not involved with disaster preparedness, First Responders operate the anonymous crime reporting box and help with other crime prevention activities. The team is open to all students at the school, but children of law enforcement and fire fighters or students interested in those careers are especially recruited.

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