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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 19, 1998


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|                 KEEPING AMERICA'S SCHOOL CHILDREN SAFE               |
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|                 Clinton Administration Accomplishments               |
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Making Our Schools and Communities Safer

Strengthening and Expanding the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. In 1994, President Clinton and the Congress expanded the Drug-Free Schools Act into the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act, making violence prevention a key part of this program. The Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program provides support for violence and drug prevention programs to 97% of the nation's school districts. Schools use these funds to keep violence, drugs and alcohol away from students and out of schools. The President's FY99 budget expands the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program by $50 million to fund 1,300 Drug and Violence Prevention Coordinators to help junior high and middle schools across the country develop and implement effective strategies to keep our kids safe and away from drugs.

Providing After School Opportunities for Up to Half a Million Children a Year. Last year, the President fought for, and won, a $40 million expansion of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. Building on the success of this program, the President's FY99 budget includes a $200 million major expansion, which will provide safe and educational after school opportunities for up to 500,000 children. This increase will give more school-age children in rural and urban communities across the country positive learning opportunities and keep more kids off the streets in the after school hours when most violent juvenile crime occurs.

Gaining New Tools to Protect Our Youth from Violence and Drugs. Key elements of the President's Anti-Gang Youth Violence Strategy were included in the FY98 Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Act. These funding measures -- $489 million for juvenile justice -- will give communities, schools, and families new tools to help keep kids safe from gangs and violence, and away from drugs. Included in this funding is over $110 million for prosecutors to curb gang violence, as well as funding for violent juvenile court assistance, that can help to fund probations officers -- both important elements of the President's Anti-Gang Youth Violence Strategy.

Encouraging Schools to Adopt School Uniform Policies. School uniforms have been found to be a promising strategy to reduce violence while promoting discipline and respect in school. Because of this, the Clinton Administration has encouraged schools to consider adopting school uniform policies by sharing with every school district a school uniforms manual prepared by the Department of Education in consultation with local communities and the Department of Justice.

Supporting Curfews at the Local Level. Because of the success of curfews in helping to fight juvenile crime and keeping children safe, the Clinton Administration has encouraged communities to adopt curfew policies. Studies have shown, including one issued by the Justice Department, that community-supported curfew programs are often successful in combating juvenile crime. For example, New Orleans' curfew program, in combination with summer jobs and recreational programs, resulted in a 27% drop in juvenile crime during curfew hours in 1994, compared to the previous year.

Cracking Down on Truancy. Truancy prevention initiatives have been shown to keep more children in school and dramatically reduce daytime crime. The President, through the Education Department, issued a guidebook to the 15,000 school districts nationwide outlining the central characteristics of a comprehensive truancy prevention policy and highlighting model initiatives in cities and towns across the country.

Encouraging Conflict Resolution. The Departments of Education and Justice have developed and distributed 40,000 conflict resolution guides to schools and community organizations, providing guidance on how to develop effective conflict resolution programs.

Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Children

Fewer Guns in the Hands of Our Children. President Clinton signed into law a youth handgun ban in his 1994 Crime Bill. The ban makes it a federal offense for an adult to transfer a handgun to a juvenile, or for a juvenile under the age of 18 to knowingly possess a handgun or handgun ammunition.

Enforcing Zero Tolerance for Guns and Other Weapons in Schools. In October 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Gun-Free Schools Act, and issued a Presidential Directive later that month to enforce "zero tolerance" for guns in schools -- if a student brings a gun to school, that student will be expelled for a year. Since the policy's enactment, preliminary estimates show that approximately 6,000 students have been expelled for bringing weapons to schools, and the vast majority of those expulsions involved guns.

Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative. The President launched the Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative (YCGII) in 27 target cities to crack down on illegal gun markets that supply firearms to juveniles and criminals. The YCGII has already traced more than 93,000 guns, providing law enforcement with crucial investigative leads about illegal gun trafficking. The President's FY99 budget includes $12 million for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to work with local police departments in the 27 target cities to trace all firearms recovered from crime scenes and help determine local gun trafficking patterns. The budget also provides $16 million to hire 162 new ATF agents, 6 per target city, to investigate and arrest the illegal gun traffickers who are supplying guns to kids and gangs.

Child Safety Locks for Handguns. The President signed a directive to every federal agency, requiring child safety locking devices with every handgun issued to federal law enforcement officers. And, in an historic agreement, eight major gun manufacturers followed the President's lead and have voluntarily agreed to provide child safety locking devices with all their handguns.

Combating Drug and Alcohol Use by Young People

Targeting Young People with a $195 Million National Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The President is launching a massive national media campaign to motivate America's youth to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse. This unprecedented $195 million paid media campaign relies on high-impact, anti-drug television and radio advertisements aired during prime-time. The campaign began in January with ads in 12 pilot cities; in June, the campaign will go nationwide.

Building and Strengthening 14,000 Community Anti-Drug Coalitions. President Clinton signed into law the bipartisan Drug-Free Communities Program this year, which will provide $143.5 million over the next five years to help community coalitions rid their streets of drugs.

Zero Alcohol Tolerance Laws for Youth. Calling for action to reduce the deaths and injuries brought about by alcohol use and driving by teens, the President signed a law in November 1995, which required states to have "Zero Alcohol Tolerance" laws for youth by Oct. 1, 1998, or risk losing highway funds. To date, 46 states and the District of Columbia have enacted zero tolerance laws, which prohibit youths under age 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. In addition, the President is fighting for safe and sober streets by urging Congress to pass legislation to set a nationwide limit for impaired driving at .08 blood alcohol content for adult drivers.