Most law enforcement agencies are so busy responding to crimes and prosecuting criminals that they're left with few resources for attacking lawlessness at its roots.
That realization has prompted the formation of a Utah Valley At-Risk Prevention Project, which local officials hope will qualify for funding from the State Council for At-Risk Children and Youth."We are not able to prevent anything," Sheriff's Lt. Gary Clayton told the Utah County Commission on Monday. "We are marginally able to react to them (crimes). How nice it would be to intervene at an early age and correct some of the deficiencies."
Clayton and Betty Harrison, a Brigham Young University professor of educational psychology, presented the commission with a proposal that represents a "shift in philosophy . . . from ware-housing and processing the problems to preventing the problems with interventions at the earliest possible time in a child's life."
The proposal will be submitted to the state at-risk council before the end of June. The state council has been charged with selecting, supporting and funding what have been called "school-based intervention projects" aimed at increasing the social and educational success of students.
The 1989 Legislature appropriated $300,000 for fiscal 1990 to fund pilot projects.
According to the state council's request for proposals, the projects selected will be those that "utilize the resources and expertise of education, social services and health to develop and implement comprehensive school-based interventions" for at-risk children and their families.
The goal of those projects will be to help children achieve academic success by addressing their health, social and emotional needs.
The locally developed project comprises a mul-tiagency approach to preventing juvenile delinquency by implementing early intervention through schools, juvenile court facilities, state Social Services, law enforcement agencies, businesses and volunteers.
"We have to switch the focus from the treatment of problems . . . to the child," Harrison said, to slow what she termed the "revolving door" of delinquency.
The project proposes to mobilize local resources "to meet the new challenge of preventing academic failure and inappropriate behavior, and the continuing challenge of providing continuums of intervention."
The local proposal, if funded, would be implemented in four Utah Valley schools - two in the Alpine School District and one each in the Nebo and Provo school districts.
Through the collaborative efforts of local schools, parents and community agencies, a locally developed "at-risk prevention project" proposes to help students become productive, caring, responsible and capable of meeting the challenges of society.