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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release Saturday, January 13, 2001


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THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. As I enter the final week of my presidency, I'm extraordinarily grateful for all the progress we've made together these last eight years -- building the strongest economy in a generation, renewing our ethic of responsibility, and strengthening the bonds of community and family all across America. Today I want to talk about our progress in reducing youth violence and new steps we're taking to make our communities even safer.

Over the past few years, terrible tragedies at Columbine and other schools have forced us to take a hard look at youth violence, and an even harder look at what each of us can do and must do to ensure that such tragedies do not happen again.

Although there are no simple solutions, recent evidence suggests we are moving in the right direction. According to the latest data, violent crime by young people has been cut nearly in half since 1993; schoolyard deaths have dropped dramatically. These are both important declines that reflect the lowest national crime rate in 25 years.

But, still, we have more to do. At my direction, the White House Council on Youth Violence has developed a new website and toll-free information line to help parents and educators get the facts they need to reduce youth violence. The website address is www.safeyouth.org. And the toll-free number is 1-866-SAFE-YOUTH. That's www.safeyouth.org, and 1-866-SAFE-YOUTH.

I'm also pleased to release another important resource -- a guide for parents on communicating better with teenagers. It incorporates the latest research as well as the best ideas from the White House Conference on Teenagers, which Hillary and I sponsored last year. We'll distribute this publication nationwide through the website, the toll-free line and with the assistance of school principals, school nurses and pediatricians.

Like all parents, Hillary and I know it's not always easy to talk with your children about sensitive subjects. That's why this new guide is so very valuable -- because it teaches parents how to listen more carefully to their children and nurture relationships built on trust, love, discipline and respect.

America has made a lot of progress in renewing these enduring values and strengthening our sense of national community. A record number of young people now volunteer for community service. So, together, we've built a country that's not only better off, but a better, safer place for all of us.

We passed the Brady law, which has kept guns out of the hands of over 600,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers. We've secured funding for more than 100,000 new police officers on the beat. We created the COPS in Schools program to help local law enforcement hire police officers to work in our schools.

We established after-school and summer school programs that are helping now 1.3 million children a year stay out of trouble and succeed in the classroom, and we've launched a national program to foster local partnerships that make our schools safer, identify children at risk, and get them the help they need.

Working closely with the private sector and community groups, we also expanded the GEAR-UP initiative to give young people mentors and encouragement to seek a college education. And now, a record number of young people are going on to college.

We need to build on this remarkable success. Here in Washington, Congress should now move swiftly to close the gun show loophole and require background checks for all gun buyers. In the private sector, Hollywood should own up to its responsibilities and stop marketing violence to America's young people.

There is nothing more precious to a parent than a child, and nothing more important to our future than the safety of all our children. So let's do all we can to protect them from harm and teach them to walk away from violence. In the end, all of us have a responsibility to help our youth succeed and to help end youth violence. If we do this mission successfully, America will always be a great and peaceful nation for generations to come.

Thanks for listening.

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