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Clinton Plans Youth Violence Summit

May 1, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The administration is pushing for dialogue on school violence, ranging from President Clinton’s invitation to the nation’s leaders for a White House strategy session to a top education official’s plea for students to talk to their parents.

``In the rush to use pagers, cell phones, fax machines and the Internet, let’s listen to what we are really trying to tell each other,″ said Education Secretary Richard Riley, who met Friday with dozens of parents, students and teachers at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md.

Clinton touted a grassroots approach to the school violence problem in his Friday announcement of the May 10 strategy session. Pressed by some members of Congress after the Colorado school shooting to summon Hollywood executives to the White House, Clinton said he was inviting a broad cross-section of leaders _ from government, the clergy, the entertainment and Internet industries, in addition to those who ``produce explosives and weapons, and those who use them lawfully.″

``Let’s bury the hatchet and build a future for our children together,″ said Clinton, who asked the nation to ``unite in action″ against school violence, just like earlier campaigns against drunken driving and promoting seatbelts. He offered the gun lobby a seat at the table.

Asked later if that included the National Rifle Association, which has bitterly fought Clinton on gun-control legislation, White House domestic policy adviser Bruce Reed hedged and said the invitation list had not been finalized.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., announced earlier in the week a ``National Conference on Youth and Culture.″

Clinton emphasized that no single factor _ neither the violence on the Internet and in children’s entertainment, nor the availability of firearms _ is to blame for last week’s shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

``As we have united in grief, now we should unite in action.″

Last October, after shooting broke out at other schools, Clinton convened a White House conference on school safety with about 800 educators and law enforcement officials.

At that time, the president announced initiatives to hire 2,000 police and school security officers in high-risk areas, revamp the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, and a federal response team to deal with outbreaks of school violence.

Mary Wiethorn, 18, a senior at Walt Whitman, asked Riley about addressing the hatred and prejudice she believes leads to school violence: ``The government doesn’t do enough about that. There’s so much they don’t say about hate, especially to young kids.″

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