OAKLAND (KCBS) – Oakland’s new mayor hopes to use a mentoring program to decrease crime and increase employment in the community.

The newly sworn-in Jean Quan unveiled a plan Monday that would enlist a mentor for each of the 2,000 children she described as most at-risk in Oakland, including 500 minors in trouble with the law each year, the 1,200 who are excessively truant, and some 300 foster children who “age out” of the system every year.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

“Many of the young women on International Boulevard are girls that have been recruited straight out of foster care,” she warned of the city’s prostitution problem.

She cited statistics that the number of children sent back to prison each year is cut in half when they are mentored.

She added that mentoring helps to decrease crime, help young people secure jobs, and improve their chances of obtaining a high school degree.

“If you miss twenty days of school, your chances of graduating with your class are poor. If you fall behind, graduating from high school is tougher. And if you don’t graduate from high school in this city, you’re more likely to become another statistic.”

“The level of collaboration should be something that we haven’t seen in this city before,” added Oakland Unified School District police chief Pete Sarna.

He said it takes outside help to get kids off the streets and back into the classroom.

“It’s exciting to see there’s going to be some really powerful collaborations between the City of Oakland and the school district that I think are really going to help to reduce crime.”

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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