Youth conduct neighborhood safety perception survey

Members of the Fallbrook Youth Advocacy Coalition and supervising adults are knocking on doors in local apartment communities to find out what residents think about crime and safety in their neighborhoods.

North County – More than a dozen students from the Fallbrook Youth Advocacy Coalition have been knocking on doors in Fallbrook and De Luz apartment communities to find out what residents think about safety, crime and related issues in their neighborhoods.

The youth, ages 12 to 16, are reaching out to the community, collecting resident safety and crime input using the Neighborhood Safety Perception Survey. Developed by The Center for Community Research organization, the survey is used in “crime-free, multi-housing” programs that help make various apartment communities around the county safer by reducing drug use, drug dealing and related crime.

The Fallbrook Youth Advocacy Coalition uses environmental prevention strategies to reduce youth access to alcohol and other drugs in the unincorporated areas served by the Fallbrook Regional Health District. Environmental prevention focuses on improving communities by changing or reducing the negative impact of various conditions in the environment like alcohol sales to minors, over-service of drinks in bars and binge-drinking by minors, in order to foster healthy behaviors.

The survey will give coalition members experience in data collection, which is a key part of environmental prevention.

“I’ve never done one before,” coalition member Vanessa Hernandez, 15, said about surveys in general. “I’m just really open, and I know that this is going to help our community. And I’m willing to go out there and do it.”

The youth kicked off the effort in mid-June at Rosewood Apartments. The group plans to visit Casa de Cortez, De Luz, Country Views, Fallbrook View, Northwood Gardens, Reed & Brooke, Sunset Terrace and Turnagain Arms Apartments by the end of July.

The two-page neighborhood perception survey offers English- and Spanish-speaking tenants a chance to weigh in on topics like how safe people feel walking alone in their neighborhood during the day and at night. The survey also covers crimes and other problems people might see in their neighborhoods and asks respondents whether they think authorities understand and respond to those problems.

Residents in single-family homes near the selected apartment communities will be invited to participate as well.

The county of San Diego Health and Human Services, Behavioral Health Services funded the survey’s development because preventing alcohol- and other drug-related problems saves lives, saves valuable taxpayer dollars and reduces drain on emergency services and law enforcement.

The youth coalition will share the survey results with representatives of the Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation and the Fallbrook Community Planning Group in August, with a request that they use the results to balance local business interests and community needs. The youth will also consider the results when choosing new projects that support alcohol and drug prevention.

Jake Kruger, a crime prevention specialist at the Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation, helped the youth chose the apartment communities being surveyed. He said he looks forward to seeing the results.

“The Sheriff’s Department’s mission is to provide the highest quality public safety service,” Kruger said. “So we really appreciate the feedback from the survey because it helps us stay responsive and sensitive to the needs of those we serve by means of the Crime Free, Multi-Housing program.”

North Inland Community Prevention Program and the Fallbrook Regional Health District sponsor the Fallbrook Youth Advocacy Coalition, which currently has 13 members. The youth work in pairs under the supervision of North Inland Community Prevention Program staff members and parent volunteers while conducting the survey.

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