The many forms that violence takes are linked to complex social issues faced by individuals and communities every day. Limited resources to meet basic needs, lack of access to services, failing infrastructure, limited opportunities for education and employment, systemic and structural racism and oppression, and other inequities play roles in the backstory that leads to violence. That’s why addressing violence must extend beyond law enforcement and incarceration and must permeate through the systems and structures that influence and impact us, our neighborhoods, cities, states, and country. On this page, the Violence Prevention Institute has highlighted effective, evidence-based violence prevention approaches and interventions. We invite you to take these options to your communities, organizations, and policymakers to write a story of a future where everyone has what they need to thrive.
Young people deserve opportunities to grow and thrive, yet they experience barriers and risk factors that increase their exposure to violence. Research has informed practices, programs, and policies to increase protective factors for young people and their families.
1. Listen to and value youth voices. Young people deserve to have a say in the decisions that shape their future. With research demonstrating links between adverse childhood experiences and negative health, well-being, and safety outcomes that reach far beyond their present, cross-generational conversations must happen to create spaces, programs, and policies that uplift children and families. The New Orleans Youth Master Plan is facilitated by the New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board (CYPB), the New Orleans Youth Alliance (NOYA), and the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families (OYF) with co-direction and co-authorship by New Orleans youth, including the Youth Advisory Board of CYPB, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC), and NOYA Youth Leadership Fellows. The Youth Master Plan lays out 30 solutions within six Youth Master Plan areas and centers on five developmental stages from birth to 24.
2. Help young people build positive connections with adults. Research has found that positive adult connection is a protective factor for adolescents, especially those in low-resource neighborhoods. Caring adult relationships have a positive impact on school performance and mental health and reduces the risk of substance use, suicide, and exposure to violence. Several youth-serving organizations incorporate positive adult relationships into their offerings and values. Community members can also act as mentors with these organizations or interact with and support the young people in their own neighborhoods. Leaders and politicians can enact programs and policies that increase support for parents, guardians, and caregivers.
Culyba, A. J., Ginsburg, K. R., Fein, J. A., Branas, C. C., Richmond, T. S., & Wiebe, D. J. (2016). Protective Effects of Adolescent–Adult Connection on Male Youth in Urban Environments. Journal of Adolescent Health, 58(2), 237-240. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.10.247.
3. Use youth interests to engage youth activism. The National Youth Art Movement Against Gun Violence encouraged art creation as a means of advocating for gun violence prevention. Activities that connected youth’s intrinsic interests in art with work toward a cause strengthened their affinity toward sociopolitical engagement. Given the disproportionate affect gun violence has on young people, supporting their existing interests in visual and performing arts like art, music, theater, etc. can uplift their voices and creativity in advocacy and social change.
Samuels, J. T. (2020). Interest-driven sociopolitical youth engagement: Art and gun violence prevention. The Journal of Media Literacy Education, 12(2), 80-92. https://doi.org/10.23860/JMLE-2020-12-2-7.
4. Support the development of emotional intelligence (EQ) in children and youth. EQ is an individual’s ability to perceive, manage, and evaluate emotions, whether those are their own or someone else’s. When people can name emotions, they are able to recognize them as behavior in themselves and in others. This can make them able to identify negative or aggressive feelings or actions to hopefully prevent or mitigate harm. Higher EQ can lead to fewer violent behaviors, especially in dating relationships, and an increased ability to identify behaviors as aggressive or violent. This is particularly important to develop in children and young people so that they can discover earlier rather than later in life the potential harm of certain actions and when their feelings or the feelings of others are leading toward harmful behavior. Research has defined this connection by demonstrating that being the aggressor in adolescent dating relationships is related to obtaining lower EQ scores, and that being able to identify violent behaviors as aggressive is related to higher scores in EQ.
Estevez-Casellas, C., Gómez-Medina, M. D., & Sitges, E. (2021). Relationship between emotional intelligence and violence exerted, received and perceived in teen dating relationships. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(5), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052284.
5. Employ social norm interventions, especially for young people. Social norms are the informal rules of groups and society that govern behavior. In the same way that social norms can perpetuate violence, changing them can reduce and prevent violence in communities. Youth should be included in the co-creation and promotion of social norms that say "violence is not the answer." Youth can and should be part of the transformative change needed in their communities. The University of Louisville Youth Violence Prevention Research Center (YVPRC) implemented a community-wide social norms campaign called “Pride, Peace, Prevention” to cultivate positive racial identity and inspire leadership and community engagement. Recognizing the need to shift community dialogue to address the root causes of youth violence (such as patterns of inequity, economic disparities, and discrimination) in a meaningful way, the goal of the Pride, Peace, Prevention campaign is to provide knowledge about Black history and shift the dominant narratives of what it means to be Black in the United States. It promotes cultural/racial pride and strives for a nonviolent peaceful community to prevent youth violence.
6. Support young people in understanding and formulating caring relationships. As they are developing their peer groups and social relationships, preteens and teens may need help distinguishing between caring attitudes and behaviors and those that are controlling, manipulative, or abusive. Knowing this difference can prevent dating violence. Safe Dates is an engaging, interactive, school-based program designed to change harmful attitudes and behaviors so that young people understand what a caring relationship looks and feels like. The curriculum is developmentally appropriate and is an evidence-based intervention to implement as a standalone program or within a health class.
Safe Dates may also help prevent other types of violence.
Foshee, V. A., Reyes, L. M., Agnew-Brune, C. B., Simon, T. R., Vagi, K. J., Lee, R. D., & Suchindran, C. (2014). The Effects of the Evidence-Based Safe Dates Dating Abuse Prevention Program on Other Youth Violence Outcomes. Prevention Science, 15(6), 907-916. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11121-014-0472-4.
7. Provide safe, stable, and nurturing relationships as a model of prevention and intervention for LGBTQ+ children and youth. A higher risk of violence exists for LGBTQ+ communities, especially for young people. It comes in multiple forms, can happen in multiple places including home, school, and neighborhood, and often occurs multiple times, compounding the harm and creating lifelong difficulties. Everyone can support intervening in and preventing this violence. Victim service providers, school personnel, and members of the public can intervene and make a huge difference, and a guide from the National Resource Center for Reaching Victims (NRC) and FORGE offers ways to do that. Simple and effective ways of preventing violence against LGBTQ+ youth include creating safe, stable, and nurturing relationships, providing connection and affirmation, increasing public conversations, using social media for education and support, and advocating for policy changes.
8. Expand positive youth development programs. Leveraging their strengths, youth benefit by engaging within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families. Through youth development programs, they can gain opportunities, relationships, and support to pursue their own goals and enhance their leadership ability. Involvement as an equal partner in these types of programs will help strengthen their protective factors against exposure to violence. Youth.gov offers a robust set of resources on youth development programs, including how to start one in your community.
9. Prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Experiencing events or environments that undermine a sense of safety, stability, and bonding in childhood can have negative impacts into adulthood. Understanding the risk and protective factors around violence and providing support for safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can help prevent ACEs. Prevention and intervention approaches can occur on multiple levels - individual, relational, community, and societal. Everyone from neighbors to policymakers can act with information about ACEs from the CDC.
10. Know the signs of child abuse. Recognizing child abuse is the first step in keeping children safe. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has several resources to help identify different types of maltreatment and how to get them the resources they need.
11. Encourage positive parenting that builds safe, stable, and nurturing environments. Caregivers help children learn and grow through their relationships, and this involves caring, teaching, guiding, communicating, and providing for their needs. Anyone with children in their lives can engage in positive interactions that support their development and their parents. Resources from the CDC provide more information about child development, positive parenting, safety, and health at each life stage.
12. Work with families to promote positive youth development and prevent youth violence. Everyone benefits when families have what they need to support themselves and the healthy development of their children. But not all families, particularly those in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty and inequity, face barriers getting what they need and require greater support. The Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention (CCYVP) developed and evaluated two programs that provide opportunities for information exchange, knowledge and skill building, and practice.
SAFE Children is a family-focused, school-based preventive intervention designed to aid children and families in the transition to school by increasing children’s reading achievement, encouraging parent involvement in education, and improving parenting practices and family relationships. During weekly sessions, families discuss issues of parenting, family relations, and parental involvement and investment in their child’s schooling.
The GREAT Schools and Families program is designed to reduce school violence by decreasing aggression, promoting children’s academic and social competence, and improving parental skills, support, and involvement with schools. GREAT delivers multiple-family group activities that integrate parenting skills, family management, developmental education, and family support to strengthen youth protective factors.
13. Provide early interventions with children, youth, and parents to improve self-control, social skills, & decision-making. Researchers have frequently studied the relationship between self-control and violence and the way parenting impacts a child’s development of self-control. Failure to develop sufficient self-control can increase an individual’s risk for negative health, mental health, and societal outcomes far into the future. As a means of addressing and preventing violence, schools, agencies, and nonprofit organizations can offer children and parents programs that proactively support self-control development or intervene in behavioral issues. One such program is SNAP® (Stop Now And Plan), an evidence-based cognitive behavioral model that provides a framework for teaching children struggling with behavior issues, and their parents, effective emotional regulation, self-control, and problem-solving skills. Its goal is to help children stop and think before they act.
14. Support parents who are incarcerated and their children by providing safe, quality parent-child contact through friendly, accessible visitation environments. Children with parents who are incarcerated are at risk of several negative health, well-being, and safety outcomes and exposure to violence. To improve and maintain familial relationships, carceral systems do better to provide opportunities and interventions. Research suggests better coordination between the foster care and carceral systems, increasing availability of child-friendly areas for visitation, reducing exorbitant rates for calls from prison, increase educational opportunities and interventions for parents, and several others.
Poehlmann, J., Dallaire, D., Loper, A. B., & Shear, L.D. (2010). Children’s Contact With Their Incarcerated Parents: Research Findings and Recommendations. The American Psychologist, 65 (6). https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0020279.
15. Provide work experience for young people, especially during the summer. Employment not only engages young people when they aren’t in school, but it also provides valuable career and life skills. Research studies on summer employment indicate that it can reduce violent crime. Beyond the benefit of income precluding the need to commit certain types of crime, the mentoring, conflict resolution, and self-regulation learned through working with others speaks to the opportunity for prosocial behavior change. Further research into to why these programs work as violence prevention is needed so that they can be focused on the most effective practices and increased in both number and length.
Heller, S. Pollack, H. A., & Davis, J. M. V. (2017). The effects of summer jobs on youth violence. National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Office of Justice Programs. https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/library/publications/effects-summer-jobs-youth-violence.
Davis, J. & Heller, S. B. (2020). Rethinking the Benefits of Youth Employment Programs: The Heterogeneous Effects of Summer Jobs. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 102(4), 664-677. https://doi.org/10.1162/rest_a_00850.
16. Implement school-based violence prevention programs. Schools bring children together to learn and create environments for collaboration, connection, and community. No matter the age, wherever people come together becomes a space to hear diverse perspectives, develop empathy, and get social and emotional support. Relationships and understanding cultivated in the classroom, through peer groups, during school activities, and between caring adults and children can be harnessed to prevent and respond to violence inside and outside of school. School-based violence prevention programs offer an opportunity to educate students and school staff about violence to change the way young people think and feel about violence and enhance interpersonal and emotional skills such as communication, problem-solving, and conflict management. The World Health Organization has developed a practical handbook to provide guidance for school officials and education authorities to embed violence prevention within school activities and across the interactions schools have with children, parents, and community members.
17. Expand and evaluate use of restorative justice approaches in schools. Supporting school systems in dealing with disciplinary infractions, restorative justice provides an alternative to ineffective zero-tolerance policies. Research into this area reports positive outcomes, including improved social relationships and reductions in office discipline referrals, both of which help schools to be safer for everyone and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. School administrators can investigate and implement a variety of restorative justice approaches and evaluate their outcomes within their out systems.
Katic, B., Alba, L. A., and Johnson, A. H. (2020). A Systematic Evaluation of Restorative Justice Practices: School Violence Prevention and Response, Journal of School Violence, 19(4). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15388220.2020.1783670.
18. Improve school quality through increased and equitable funding. Researchers in a variety of fields have confirmed that education lowers criminality and exposure to violence. Positive school environments are places for children and young people to gain the cognitive skills to weigh consequences, develop social skills and cohesion to meet the human need for belonging, and increase their employment and income opportunities far into the future. A recent study examined the long-term relationship between crime and school district spending, finding increasing education funding has the capacity to reduce crime and thus violence. Legislators at both the state and federal level have the opportunity to implement policies and develop budgets that would increase school funding, make funding more equitable, and enhance the protective factor that schools and education can provide far into a person’s future.
Ades, J. & Mishra, J. (2021). Education and Crime across America: Inequity’s Cost. Social Sciences (Basel), 10(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10080283.
19. Improve school connectedness for all students in all grades. School connectedness occurs when students believe the adults in their schools care about both what and how they learn as well as who they are. Children and teens want to feel that the people in their school care about them as individuals. In addition to supporting educational outcomes, research has found that school connectedness is a protective factor against violence as well as substance use and unintentional injury. School administrators, staff, and teachers can employ a number of strategies as recommended by the CDC to improve school connectedness, including: proactively facilitate student, family, and community engagement, promote open communication, use effective classroom management and teaching methods to foster a positive learning environment, and provide professional development and support for teachers and staff which enables them to meet students’ diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs.
20. Continue exploring the connections between community safety and healthy child development. The places where a child lives, plays, and learns can have physical, mental, and emotional impacts far into adulthood. That’s why preventing their exposure to violence - not just at home but everywhere children are - is critical to a thriving future. Nurturing relationships, strong social networks, and community connectedness are protective factors and promote pro-social norms and positive social-emotional development. School administrators and policymakers at all levels can support this as well as equitable opportunity by building an early education to employment pipeline that reduces or eliminates suspensions and expulsions in early learning settings, provides mental health supports in early learning settings, improves access to affordable, high-quality early care and education programs, and makes restorative justice an organizational practice in education settings.
21. Support youth-serving organizations. Beyond school, young people need enrichment and activities that build their confidence and skills and provide them opportunities to interact with peers and adults. Every community has a variety of organizations, and some even focus on interests like running, filmmaking, coding, or being outdoors. Share your interest and knowledge with young people by finding an organization in your area to support with your time, in-kind donation, or financial contribution. In the New Orleans area, the New Orleans Youth Alliance has a directory of programs on its website. You can search it to find a program for a young person you know or an organization with which you can volunteer.
22. Examine how juvenile incarceration perpetuates inequity. The intent of the juvenile justice system is to help young people avoid further involvement in the system, yet it does include detention and incarceration as part of its process. Reports of violence and maltreatment in these facilities are common, negating any possible outcomes and increasing negative ones. Research shows juvenile incarceration is a disruption in young people’s development and results in substantially lower high school completion rates and higher adult incarceration rates.
Aizer, A. & Doyle, J. J. (2015). Juvenile incarceration, human capital, and future crime: Evidence from randomly assigned judges. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 130(2), 759-803. https://academic.oup.com/qje/article-abstract/130/2/759/2330376?redirectedFrom=fulltext.
The connection between mental health and violence is complex, and environmental circumstances influence an individual’s risk and protective factors with regards to violence. Community-based resources are needed to improve well-being for all.
23. Improve access to mental health services to treat the trauma of early violence. A robust volume of research has found early interpersonal trauma is a risk factor in subsequent perpetration of violent behavior. A number of evidence-based treatments for trauma exist, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and access to these support healing and positive growth in a way that protects against harmful behavior, whether or not the individual has or has not yet become a perpetrator of violence.
Kar, H. (2019). Acknowledging the victim to perpetrator trajectory: Integrating a mental health focused trauma-based approach into global violence programs. Aggression and Violent Behavior (47). https://www.clinicalkey.com/#!/content/playContent/1-s2.0-S1359178917303269.
24. Close the gap for accessing mental health care. Not everyone who needs mental health care receives it for several reasons, including inadequate insurance coverage, lack of services in their area, stigma, and mental health workforce shortages. Increasing the availability of high quality, culturally competent, and coordinated care and reducing access barriers is a protective factor against exposure to violence. People deserve the opportunity to receive the mental health support they need to thrive. Some recommendations for improving access include partnerships with primary care settings, utilizing strategies from WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Program (mh-GAP), increasing telehealth, and educating more mental health providers.
Mongelli, F., Georgakopoulos, P., and Pato, M. T. (2020). Challenges and opportunities to meet the mental health needs of underserved and disenfranchised populations in the United States. Focus, 18(1), 16-24. https://focus.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.focus.20190028.
25. Support survivors of gun violence. Whether you are a survivor of gun violence or know someone who is, every person has a different path toward healing. Understanding trauma, healing, accessing resources, connecting to community, and becoming an advocate when you are ready are all part of that. The "From Healing to Action: A Toolkit for Gun Violence Survivors and Allies," was developed by and for survivors and might be helpful along that difficult journey.
26. Examine population-based approaches to mental health. Aligning several strategies to support well-being includes social, economic, and environmental policy interventions, public health practice interventions, and health care system interventions. These can work together to reduce the incidence of traumatic events and adverse childhood experiences, modify the built environment, address financial and housing insecurity, reduce stigma, remove barriers to access, enhance the effectiveness of services, and support community organizations. All of these are protective factors against exposure to violence.
Purtle, J., Nelson, K. L., Counts, N. Z., & Yudell, M. (2020). Population-Based Approaches to Mental Health: History, Strategies, and Evidence. Annual Review of Public Health, 41(1), 201-221. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040119-094247.
27. Increase availability of and access to substance use treatment centers. Researchers have examined the effects that expanding access to substance use treatment would have on local crime and found the availability of these facilities reduce both violent and financially motivated crimes. Supporting individuals seeking and in recovery helps them on a personal level, supports their families, and has far-reaching positive effects on public health and safety. Reducing the stigma around seeking treatment and engaging policy makers in increasing funding and infrastructure would benefit entire communities on multiple levels.
Bondurant, S. R., Lindo, J. M., Swensen, I.D. (2018). Substance abuse treatment centers and local crime, Journal of Urban Economics, 104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jue.2018.01.007.
28. Employ harm reduction strategies in addressing substance use. Grounded in justice and human rights, harm reduction is meeting individuals where they are, without judgement or coercion, and not requiring them to end substance use as a condition of support. It recognizes that individuals are vulnerable to substance use because of the larger issues of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination, and other social inequalities. In that way, harm reduction and violence prevention can be effective by extricating their structural and systemic roots to improve equity, opportunity, and access.
29. Strengthen access to and delivery of suicide care. Lack of access to mental health care is a risk factor for suicide, and this limited access is not something an individual is able to change for themselves. The U.S. healthcare system as well as a lack of competent providers reduces a person’s ability to seek help. A preventative approach includes improved health insurance coverage for mental health conditions, increased amount and training of providers offering mental health services, and continuity of care for those who have sought help. The CDC’s technical package of policy, programs, and practices for suicide prevention provides guidance for organizations and governments to implement in their communities.
30. Learn the signs, the facts, and how you can help prevent suicide. Knowing risk factors, reducing stigma, and letting individuals know that support is available can make a difference. The CARE (Connect, Accept, Respond, Empower) Training from The Trevor Project provides adults with an overview of LGBTQ youth and the several factors that contribute to their heightened risk for suicide.
31. Support individuals in crisis. Knowing how to communicate with and connect with someone who may be suicidal may save their life. #BeThe1To offers five steps supported by evidence in the field of suicide prevention - Ask, Be There, Keep Them Safe, Help Them Connect, and Follow Up.
32. Understand how community trauma undermines both individual and community resilience. Trauma results from more than just experiencing or witnessing violence. Structural violence that prohibits people from accessing their basic needs impacts entire communities, creating community trauma across populations. A framework that explores adverse community experiences can support community healing and prevent trauma at the community or population level. Funded by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit in Northern California and based on interviews with practitioners in communities with high rates of violence, Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: A Framework for Addressing and Preventing Community Trauma outlines specific strategies to address and prevent community trauma — and foster resilience — using techniques from those living in affected areas. This report is helpful across sectors and at multiple organizational and governmental levels.
33. Understand how the victim and first responder interaction might influence the help-seeking behavior of victims of nonfatal shootings. First responders are considered the gatekeepers to victim support services, and knowing more about how their interactions with gunshot survivors affect the survivors healing and recovery will be helpful to ensuring survivors receive the services they need. According to research, law enforcement and other first responders could benefit from implicit bias training and reviews of victim rights policies and practices to help increase access to social, legal and support services for victims of nonfatal shootings.
Roman, C. (2020). ‘He’s not helping us, so we are not helping him’: the police as gatekeepers to victim services for victims of street violence. Injury Prevention, 26(A8). https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/26/Suppl_1/A8.2.
34. Offer trauma-informed care and mental health support for those who are and have been incarcerated. Individuals can experience exposure to violence in their homes, schools, and communities as well as from police and within the carceral system. Researchers investigating the connection between trauma exposure and contact with the criminal legal system found that not only is trauma exposure a risk factor for contact with the criminal legal system but that incarceration is a place where trauma occurs and that a history of incarceration may increase the likelihood of exposure to subsequent trauma after release. This sets up a possible cyclical relationship between trauma and incarceration that needs further examination.
Jäggi, L. J., Mezuk, B., Watkins, D. C., and Jackson, J. S. (2016). The Relationship between Trauma, Arrest, and Incarceration History among Black Americans: Findings from the National Survey of American Life. Society and Mental Health 6(3). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5079438/.
Where people live, work, shop, and spend time affects them. Neighborhood improvements from green space to street lighting can provide hope and pride for communities. Investment in the physical environment can create cohesion, reducing the risk of exposure to violence.
35. Apply principles of environmental design to promote positive social activity and the safe use of spaces. Through enhanced visibility, improved structures, and proper maintenance, community spaces can be revitalized as an external demonstration of care and connectedness. The University of Michigan’s Youth Violence Prevention Center (MI-YVPC) has evaluated several approaches that apply principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and determined that mobilizing residents to engage with one another and rebuild their neighborhoods encourages positive social interactions and community development. Youth violence and crime decrease as positive connections with neighbors and pride in the community increase.
36. Install more street lighting. Small changes to environments can have large effects on human behavior, and low-cost interventions that leverage environmental changes have the potential to change costly behaviors, including crime and violence. A randomized experiment with street lighting in housing developments demonstrated that those developments that received new lights experienced reduced crime rates, and significantly lower rates of felony crimes involving violence like murder, robbery, and aggravated assault. Street lighting improves visibility and safety for individuals as well as provides beauty and vibrancy to areas.
Chalfin, A., Hansen, B., Lerner, J., & Parker, L. (2019). Reducing Crime Through Environmental Design: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment of Street Lighting in New York City. https://urbanlabs.uchicago.edu/attachments/e95d751f7d91d0bcfeb209ddf6adcb4296868c12/store/cca92342e666b1ffb1c15be63b484e9b9687b57249dce44ad55ea92b1ec0/lights_04242016.pdf.
37. Invest in the greening of neighborhoods as a protective factor against violence. Several studies have examined the relationship between increased green space resulting in a decrease in crime and violence. This may be due to increased social interactions between neighbors, increasing collective efficacy, mutual trust, and willingness to act for the common good. Individual mental health also improves with exposure to nature or green space. Green spaces also moderate temperature, and studies have demonstrated a relationship between temperature and violence, in that increased heat comes increased aggression. More trees provide comfort and shade to potentially mitigate this. Residents can engage in their own efforts to green their neighborhoods as well as advocate with city and state officials for increased green space for improved quality life, physical health, and violence prevention.
Kondo, M.C., South, E.C., Branas, C.C., Richmond, T.S., & Wiebe, D. J. (2017). The Association Between Urban Tree Cover and Gun Assault: A Case-Control and Case-Crossover Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 186(3), Pages 289-296. https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwx096.
38. Continue to research the relationship of green space to violence and crime. Studies have found that green space is health-promoting and linked to a number of well-being benefits, like recovery from mental fatigue, positive childhood development, and social cohesion. Understanding how green spaces affect activity and behavior within neighborhoods and commercial districts can help inform violence prevention and interventions within cities and communities. Existing studies support the idea that specific types of urban green space hold great potential to decrease community crime and violence, and more research and collaboration among researchers may provide additional insight into causal mechanisms behind reductions in crime and violence related to urban green space.
Bogar, S. & Beyer, K. M. (2016). Green Space, Violence, and Crime: A Systematic Review. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 17(2), 160-171. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838015576412.
39. Reduce the number of abandoned buildings in neighborhoods. Researchers have studied the connection between abandoned and/or blighted property and violence, especially firearm violence. Their presence may create physical opportunities for violence by sheltering illegal activity and illegal firearms. Blight remediation programs can be cost-beneficial strategies that significantly and sustainably reduce firearm violence. Neighbors have a voice in reducing blight in their communities. Reach out to your municipal leaders - city council and mayor - as well as departments like code enforcement. In New Orleans, residents can call 311 or visit the 311 website to address blight.
Branas, C.C., Kondo, M.C., Murphy, S.M., South, E.C., Polsky, D., & MacDonald, J.M. (2016). Urban Blight Remediation as a Cost-Beneficial Solution to Firearm Violence. American Journal of Public Health 106, 2158-2164. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303434.
40. Prevent the foreclosure of homes. Abandoned property is often the result of foreclosure. Researchers found that violent crime rates go up when foreclosed homes become vacant, and that further increases with length of vacancy. Intervening in foreclosure would not only benefit the homeowners but the entire neighborhood. Lenders and policymakers at all levels can create opportunities that lessen the possibility of foreclosure and support homeowners in mediating foreclosure.
Cui, L., & Walsh, R. (2015). Foreclosure, vacancy and crime. Journal of Urban Economics (87). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jue.2015.01.001.
41. Support families and homeowners to improve and keep their property safe and occupied. Deteriorating structures also decrease neighborhood value and pride, reducing social cohesion and increasing the risk of crime and violence. Homeowners often experience financial constraints that prevent them from maintaining and repairing their homes, especially when those structures are damaged by disaster, fire, or another unexpected event. Programs that assist homeowners, especially those who are low-income, in restoring and improving the safety, accessibility, and external appearance of their homes increases the overall comfort and connectedness within the community, which reduces the risk of crime and violence. A housing repair intervention in Philadelphia resulted in a decrease in all crime.
South, E.C., MacDonald, J., & Reina, V. (2021). Association Between Structural Housing Repairs for Low-Income Homeowners and Neighborhood Crime. JAMA Network Open, 4(7). https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2782142.
42. Support neighborhood improvement projects that develop “third places.” Sociologist Ray Oldenburg coined the term “third place” as a location community members can spend time between home (“first” place) and work (“second” place) to exchange ideas, build relationships, and have fun. These can be places like churches, parks, and recreation centers as well as some types of commercial spaces like hairdressers and gyms. Physical spaces where people can meet and connect create social cohesion, which is a protective factor against violence. Further research suggests third places may be mobilized to innovatively reduce health disparities and improve quality of life and that third place settings can support youth who endure social marginalization. Additionally, the Brookings Institute has a number of recommendations on how to build and revive third spaces in cities and suburbs, which includes investing in local, community-led initiatives to create enjoyable, inclusive gathering places.
Finlay, J., Esposito, M., Kim, M.H., Gomez-Lopez, I., & Clarke, P. (2019). Closure of ‘third places’? Exploring potential consequences for collective health and wellbeing. Health & Place, 60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2019.102225.
Littman, D.M. (2021). Third places, social capital, and sense of community as mechanisms of adaptive responding for young people who experience social marginalization. The American Journal of Community Psychology. https://www.communitypsychology.com/third-places/.
43. Understand the intersection of land use and violence prevention work. Land use supports planning processes, incentives, and zoning to develop the economic and cultural activities of cities and communities. Working with various entities to develop housing, transportation, schools, banking, retail, entertainment, industry, and agriculture, land use planners dictate access to resources and institutions, as well as the character and safety of neighborhoods. The Healthy, Equitable, Active Land Use Network (HEALU Network) convened a summit for an exploratory conversation about how land use initiatives and policies can promote health and safety in communities that have experienced chronic disinvestment, which is a risk factor for exposure to violence. Given the connection between where someone lives and their health and well-being, land use has tremendous potential to affect outcomes across the lifespan. It can promote community resilience and prevent illness, injury, and violence through access to health promoting resources. Or, it can constrain people’s opportunities to thrive through a lack of safety-promoting resources and an oversaturation of unhealthy land uses—like firearm distributors, liquor stores, freeways, and polluting industrial facilities.
44. Increase social connectedness among neighborhoods. Social connectedness is belonging, the feeling that an individual is not only part of but has value to a greater whole. This is beyond living somewhere, going to a school, or working at a job. It is having a closeness to those around you, and connecting with others is a fundamental human need. Researchers have found that increased social connectedness results in reduced violence. High social connectedness also allows individuals and communities to have resilience during hardship. While individuals can certainly introduce themselves to their neighbors, hold block parties, and find other ways to engage with one another, city and state leaders can support social connectedness with policies that improve public spaces, housing access, and public transportation.
Stuart, B.A., Taylor, E.J. (2021). The Effect of Social Connectedness on Crime: Evidence from the Great Migration. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 103(1). https://doi-org.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/10.1162/rest_a_00860.
Wilkerson, R. (2021). How Local Leaders Can Create Socially Connected Communities. Culture of Health Blog, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. https://www.rwjf.org/en/blog/2021/11/how-local-leaders-can-create-socially-connected-communities.html.
Research has connected violence to poverty and financial instability. Economic policy changes like raising the minimum wage and providing universal basic income, among others, improves individual well-being that allows for better support of children, families, and communities.
45. Close the income gap. Research has linked income inequality to several social problems, including increased crime and homicide rates. Studies in public health and psychology suggest that income inequality can produce an unstable and hostile social environment where individuals have feelings of status insecurity, stress, and anxiety, and those socialized in unequal environments are skeptical of notions of justice and fairness, which promotes hostility and violence. Recent research linked income inequality to mass shootings and found counties with growing levels of income inequality are more likely to experience mass shootings. Reducing income inequality requires a multi-level approach, and so does violence prevention. Advocating for an increased minimum wage, tax reform, and family supports can improve income equality and prevent violence.
Kwon, R., & Cabrera, J.F. (2019). Income inequality and mass shootings in the United States. BMC Public Health 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7490-x.
46. Mitigate short-term financial insecurity. Research demonstrates that supporting individuals and families with short-term or emergency financial assistance can reduce their risk of exposure to violence. One study of individuals who experienced income instability and connected with a homelessness prevention center for financial assistance found that violent crime arrest rates within a year of receiving immediate funds are 51% lower than those who did not.
Palmer, C., Phillips, D. C., & Sullivan, J. X. (2019). Does emergency financial assistance reduce crime? Journal of Public Economics, 169, 34–51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2018.10.012.
47. Address food insecurity as a social determinant of health and risk factor for violence. Research indicates that food insecurity is associated with many forms of violence, including gun injury and death. Reducing this risk by addressing food insecurity can be done through mutual aid networks, food banks, organizations, and state and federal policy. Individuals can support food banks through donations. Neighborhoods can establish community fridges or mutual aid points. Organizations can continue to deliver needed resources to individuals, families, and communities. Healthcare providers and mental health supports can assess for food insecurity and offer patients and clients with information and connections. State and federal legislators can implement programs and policies that reduce food insecurity and remove barriers to create equal access and opportunity to fulfill basic needs.
Ali, A., Broome, J., Tatum, D., Fleckman, J., Theall, K., Chaparro, M.P., Duchesne, J., & Taghavi, S. (2022). The association between food insecurity and gun violence in a major metropolitan city. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 93(1), 91-97. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35234710/.
48. Adapt microfinancing programs in the U.S. as means of violence prevention. Microfinancing provides small amounts of funding in the form of credit, savings, or financial incentives. It reduces financial strain, which in turn reduces stress on individuals and families. This makes microfinancing a potential protective factor for exposure to violence. Researchers have explored its success in low-resource countries and recommend adapting it for use within the United States. Some of the possible adaptations include matched savings instead of small loans, paying for acquisition of job skills, and engaging with multiple sectors to support gender equity and safety planning for those in abusive relationships. Additional research can further support adaptation and implementation within the United States.
Matjasko, J.L., D’Inverno, A. S., Marshall, K. J., & Kearns, M. C. (2020). Microfinance and violence prevention: A review of the evidence and adaptations for implementation in the U.S. Preventive Medicine, 133, 106017-106017. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106017.
49. Fund community organizations that address poverty by providing skill training for higher paying jobs. Lifelong barriers to opportunity and higher wages increase poverty, and research indicates that poverty is a significant risk factor for violence. Organizations can uplift individuals within their communities through workforce development, skill training, and job placement. One such organization is the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, which is a relationship-centered, data-driven, solutions-oriented approach that has been building customized pipeline training for new staff to connect employers seeking talent with individuals seeking opportunity. Learn more about their program and how to bring it to your community through their website.
50. Strengthen all forms of economic supports for families. Research demonstrates that increased financial security leads to well-being by reducing stress, food insecurity, and housing insecurity. Economic supports for families are protective factors against violence in the home, giving them resources, access, and opportunity to thrive. Considerable research exists around the relationship between community measures of home foreclosures and crime levels. Being able to pay a mortgage is an indicator of financial stability and furthers community connection. Without that, families experience a crisis that puts them at greater risk for family violence. Researchers analyzed data around mortgage foreclosures and reports of intimate partner violence to police and found that higher levels of monthly mortgage foreclosures lead to higher levels of domestic violence.
Pattavina, E., Socia, K. M., & Zuber, M. J. (2015). Economic Stress and Domestic Violence: Examining the Impact of Mortgage Foreclosures on Incidents Reported to the Police. Justice Research and Policy, 16(2), 147–164. https://doi.org/10.1177/1525107115623938.
51. Increase understanding around financial abuse as a form of intimate partner violence. Financial abuse occurs when one partner in a relationship holds power and control over the couple’s collective assets, economic resources, and financial accounts as well as the income and/or expenses of the other partner. This is often framed as violence against women, but financial abuse can happen in any intimate partner relationship. It can further economic hardship, hinder self-sufficiency, and make leaving an abusive partner difficult. Research has found that financial abuse is intertwined with other forms of intimate partner violence and has negative outcomes beyond financial status, including adversely affecting health, well-being, employment, educational attainment, and social relationships. Understanding and identifying financial abuse can further support survivors and end the way violence is perpetuated through systems and structures being used to seek help.
Eriksson, M. & Ulmestig, R. (2021). “It’s Not All About Money”: Toward a More Comprehensive Understanding of Financial Abuse in the Context of VAW. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(3-4), NP1625–1651NP. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260517743547.
52. Continue evaluating the Domestic Violence Housing First Model. The Housing First model is one effective approach in addressing homelessness in individuals who have a serious mental illness or substance use disorder. The focus on providing permanent housing through advocacy and financial assistance enables them to address other challenges, which lends itself to supporting survivors of intimate partner violence, especially those who are parents. The Housing First Model and many similarities with intimate partner violence survivor advocacy and adapting it to achieve safe and stable housing can lead to preventing further exposure to IPV. In fact, researchers found that the 12-month time point, survivors who had joined a domestic violence housing first program reported decreased physical, psychological, and economic abuse, as well as the use of their children against them as a form of abuse.
Sullivan, C. & Olsen, L. (2016). Common ground, complementary approaches: adapting the Housing First model for domestic violence survivors. Housing and Society, 43(3), 182-194. https://doi.org/10.1080/08882746.2017.1323305.
Sullivan, C.M., Guerrero, M., Simmons, C., López-Zerón, G., Ayeni, O. O., Farero, A., Chiaramonte, D., & Sprecher, M. (2022). Impact of the Domestic Violence Housing First Model on Survivors’ Safety and Housing Stability: 12-Month Findings. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. https://doi.org/10.1177/08862605221119520.
53. Provide paid parental leave. More than 120 nations provide paid parental leave, and among the most wealthy nations, the United States is the only country that does not provide paid parental leave. In addition to increased equity such a policy would provide, paid parental leave can contribute to protective factors against intimate partner violence. Continuing to provide income to employees who need to take leave due to parental duties strengthens economic supports, reduces family discord, increases egalitarian parenting practices, and promotes child/parent bonding. Several well-respected organizations including the American Psychological Association as well as researchers advocate for paid parental leave. Policymakers at the state and federal level as well as employers can implement such a policy that would positively affect families across socioeconomic levels.
D’Inverno, A.S., Reidy, D. E., & Kearns, M. C. (2018). Preventing intimate partner violence through paid parental leave policies. Preventive Medicine, 114, 18–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.05.024.
54. Explore policies to mitigate the harm of income inequality on pregnant people. Economic stability is a social determinant of health and a factor in exposure to violence. Recent research revealed that pregnancy-associated homicide was considerably higher in states with the greatest income inequality. Addressing this aligns with ways to address overall violence - by examining ways to increase economic stability and reduce financial inequality. Federal policymakers can consider minimum wage policies, tax reform, and student loan debt forgiveness, and those at all levels can invest in communities to create more social cohesion and support as well as improve the built environment.
Dyer, L., Vilda, D., Harville, E., Theall, K., & Wallace, M. (2022). Income Inequality and Pregnancy-Associated Homicide in the US: A Longitudinal, State-Level Analysis. Violence Against Women. https://doi.org/10.1177/10778012221120446.
55. Discover ways to increase wages for individuals returning home after periods of incarceration. Researchers studied the impact of local labor market conditions on recidivism, finding that being released from prison to an area with higher low-skilled wages significantly decreased recidivism risk. Individuals who have been formerly incarcerated should have access to a living wage and financial security as a protective factor. This also speaks to the need for greater income equality and less employment restrictions on those who were formerly incarcerated.
Yang, C.S. (2017). Local labor markets and criminal recidivism. Journal of Public Economics (147). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2016.12.003.
56. Decrease state restrictions on employment for people with felony convictions. Despite the research that indicates increasing employment opportunities decreases recidivism and by extension crime and violent crime, Louisiana has the highest number of institutionalized barriers making finding employment unnecessarily difficult. Everyone should have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their family and be thriving members of a healthy community. State lawmakers can end the "prison to poverty pipeline" by removing these burdensome restrictions so that people can rebuild their lives.
Fredericksen, A. & Omli, D. (2016). Jobs After Jail: Ending the Prison to Poverty Pipeline. Alliance for a Just Society The Job Gap Prosperity Series. https://jobgap2013.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/ajs_job_after_jail_report_final_pdf.pdf.
Ramakers, A., Nieuwbeerta, P., Van Wilsem, J., & Dirkzwager, A. (2017). Not Just Any Job Will Do: A Study on Employment Characteristics and Recidivism Risks After Release. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 61(16), 1795-1818. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X16636141.
Lockwood, S.K., Nally, J.M., & Ho, T. (2016). Race, Education, Employment, and Recidivism among Offenders in the United States: An Exploration of Complex Issues in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area. International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, 11(1). https://www.proquest.com/docview/1800742299?pq-origsite=primo.
Denver, M., Siwach, G., & Bushway, S. D. (2017). A new look at the employment and recidivism relationship through the lens of a criminal background check. Criminology: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 55(1), 174–204. https://doi.org/10.1111/1745-9125.12130.
Violence prevention approaches depend upon wide-spread adoption and implementation, and that responsibility does not just reside with government agencies and community organizations. Businesses, healthcare systems, schools, and other entities can play a part.
57. Encourage and support extensive cross-sector collaboration with an emphasis on health. Violence is a public health issue and requires that a variety of systems and sectors work together to address it. This includes public health departments, health care systems, and behavioral health providers, but media, faith-based organizations, and community information systems can play roles as well. No matter where you work or how you interact with your community, you can play a role in violence prevention. This framework provides information and recommendations by area for a cross-sector approach to violence prevention.
58. Build collaborations between equity-focused community organizations and health departments to develop and implement violence prevention approaches that go beyond the individual level. Government officials and agencies must value the input, experience, and capacity of community members and organizations. Connecting these sectors helps to align health department functions with equity goals. Instead of disregarding or working against them, health departments can support the advocacy power and voice of communities, making the health departments more accountable to those communities in their mutual goals of advancing equitable health and safety outcomes. This allows for health departments and residents to identify root causes of inequities - including unequal distribution of power and historical trauma - to build trust and foster long term relationships.
Sims, J., Viera, S., & Aboelata, M. J. (2018). Partnering for Health Equity: Grassroots Organizations on Collaborating with Public Health Agencies. Prevention Institute. https://www.preventioninstitute.org/publications/partnering-health-equity-grassroots-organizations-collaborating-public-health-agencies.
59. Understand the role all nonprofits can play in community-wide violence prevention efforts. With issues like housing access, food insecurity, and education inequality as risk factors for exposure to violence, addressing these issues also addresses safety. While their mission may not be violence prevention, nonprofits that support communities access basic needs can engage in equity-based approaches that provide short-term support to mitigate structural and systemic barriers and advocate for long-term social change. Research has quantified the relationship between nonprofit organizations and violence, finding that organizations focusing on crime and community life lead to reductions in homicides, violent crime, and property crime.
Sharkey, P., Torrats-Espinosa, G., & Takyar, D. (2017). Community and the Crime Decline: The Causal Effect of Local Nonprofits on Violent Crime. American Sociological Review, 82(6), 1214-1240. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122417736289.
60. Leverage community-based programs serving vulnerable families as a means of addressing intimate partner violence. Nonprofit organizations and agencies provide support to families in a variety of ways, including financial assistance, parenting classes, workforce development, and educational resources. In the same way that healthcare systems can be used to screen for and provide intervention in intimate partner violence, preventionists have sought to integrate approaches to address IPV in service delivery. Researchers have developed a readiness assessment tool to identify those existing programs and organizations well-suited for an IPV intervention. It can be used by other researchers, service providers, and prevention specialists to discover strategic partnerships and further support families within communities.
Andrews, N., Motz, M., & Pepler, D. J. (2020). Developing and testing a readiness tool for interpersonal violence prevention partnerships with community‐based projects. Journal of Community Psychology, 48(6), 1715–1731. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.22361.
61. Form partnerships between nonprofit service organizations and law enforcement to reduce intimate partner violence. Individuals who experience intimate partner violence may be fearful or distrusting of police involvement. The reasons why they may not report their experience are complicated, and the process they go through when they do is even more complicated and biased. To address this, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent gender-based violence and the police department in Cincinnati have partnered on a program to support survivors of IPV, and researchers were invited to evaluate the program. DVERT™ (Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team) is a trauma focused crisis response team that provides an on-call, on-scene safety planning, access to resources, empowerment, and engagement in on-going support services. The program intends to decrease incidents of repeat IPV, improve IPV survivor experiences and outcomes, educate IPV survivors of their potential for involvement in continued violence, assist with decisions regarding their safety and needs, and strengthen responses to IPV survivors in crisis during crucial opportunities for intervention.
Other studies exist around these responder-practitioner-researcher partnerships regarding the criminal legal system and perpetrators. DVERT enables self-determination and empowerment for survivors within the larger context of creating social change.
Wojcik, M., Rubenstein, B. Y., Petkus, A. A., Racadio, M., Anderson, V. R., Fisher, B. S., Wilcox, P., & Bleser, A. (2021). Coming Together in the Fight Against Intimate Partner Violence: Lessons Learned From a Researcher–Practitioner Collaboration Evaluating Cincinnati’s Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT). Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 37(2), 221-243. https://doi.org/10.1177/1043986221999861.
62. Explore community-based safety projects, including alternatives to policing. Community-led initiatives do not just improve connectedness. They also engage approaches that expand ideas about what can keep individuals and neighborhoods safe. The One Million Experiments website includes stories about community projects, a podcast, and ‘zines. Visitors can also share activities that have worked in their community.
63. Offer innovative support to community-led violence prevention programs. Training and employing residents to mediate conflicts in their neighborhoods is a violence prevention model called street outreach. Technology can play a vital role in supporting the organizations to coordinate these responses, which is why a group in Chicago collaborated with software developers and academics to co-design, build, and deploy a mobile application to give them more agency over their communication with one another and build a counter-structure to traditional policing.
Dickinson, J., Arthur, J., Shiparski, M., Bianca, A., Gonzalez, A., & Erete, S. (2021). Amplifying Community-led Violence Prevention as a Counter to Structural Oppression. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 5 (CSCW1, 180). https://doi.org/10.1145/3449279.
64. Continue exploring means of creating virtual safe social spaces for violence prevention. Violence prevention and interventions are often participatory in nature and implemented through face-to-face interactions. While connecting online is more widely accepted and often functions as a substitute for in-person interaction, some concerns remain about how “safe” and “secure” the virtual world can be for creating community, developing trust, interpreting non-verbal communication, and ensuring privacy and confidentiality. Through the pandemic, increased use of videoconferencing and telehealth have not only provided a continuum of connection and care but also increased access for those who have mobility needs, are immunocompromised, live in remote locations, or have care-giving responsibilities. Continuing to examine how and under what circumstances a virtual safe social space can be created can expand the reach of violence prevention programs and intervention approaches.
Ndungu, J., Ngcobo-Sithole, M., & Gibbs, A. (2022). Researchers or practitioners’ opinion of the possibilities for creating virtual safe social spaces for violence prevention interventions for young people. Health Education Research, 37(3), 155-166. https://doi.org/10.1093/her/cyac008.
65. Encourage grassroots leadership. Involved citizens can create safe, healthy communities. Being intentional and proactive about developing and supporting grassroots efforts can convert one person’s passion into local, long-term change. Whether you are interested in solving a problem in your community or involving more of your neighbors in your cause, you’ll find something of value to your work in findings about grassroots leadership from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
66. Implement violence prevention interventions in primary care settings. When individuals access the healthcare system, all of their needs can and should be assessed so that they can be met and that they are safe in their living environments and communities. Routine visits for primary or pediatric care provide an opportunity to connect individuals with resources and intervene with additional mental health or case management supports. Additional research is needed to expand this area of violence prevention.
Roche, J.S., Philyaw-Kotov, M.L., Sigel, E., et al. (2022). Implementation of a youth violence prevention programme in primary care. Injury Prevention, 28. https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/28/3/231.
67. Assess for intimate partner violence in healthcare settings. Healthcare providers are well-positioned to help people address a variety of negative impacts on their well-being. IPV causes adverse effects for individuals and their families and assessing for that in primary care, pediatric, gynecological, and other wellness visits can identify needs and resources to prevent or end violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a document of clinical and healthcare assessment tools for IPV and sexual violence. It serves as a guide to help identify victims requiring additional services and can help practitioners make appropriate referrals for both victims and perpetrators.
68. Increase presence of as well as funding and training for community health workers. Community Health Workers (CHW) serve in a frontline public health capacity within communities, becoming trusted connections between the community and health and social services. CHWs facilitate access to services, improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery, and increase health knowledge and self-sufficiency through outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy. CHW’s community-focused roles can be applied to address structural determinants of health inequities, which also positions CHWs to support violence prevention. In preventing community violence, youth violence, and family violence specifically, use of CHWs within comprehensive approaches helps to reframe violence as a public health issue, change community norms around violence, help communities to heal collectively from violence, and develop community leadership and capacity to initiate change in structural conditions.
Barbero, C., Hafeedh Bin Abdullah, A., Wiggins, N., Garrettson, M., Jones, D., S. Guinn, A., Girod, C., Bradford, J., & Wennerstrom, A. (2022). Community Health Worker Activities in Public Health Programs to Prevent Violence: Coding Roles and Scope. American Journal of Public Health (1971), 112(8), 1191-1201. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2022.306865.
69. Create policies, programs, and services that reduce suicide and improve individual, family, and community health because suicide prevention is violence prevention. The National Action Alliance identified seven key elements for the successful implementation of comprehensive community-based suicide prevention. They include Unity, Planning, Integration, Fit, Communication, Data, and Sustainability. Community-based programs play a critical role in supporting the development of positive social connections, identifying those who may be at risk, and getting them the resources they need.
70. Engage gun dealers and owners in violence prevention. Responsible gun ownership and safe storage can prevent firearm injury and death, especially with regards to suicide. The Gun Shop Project through the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health connected public health and mental health practitioners with firearm retailers and gun range operators to educate them on the role they can play in suicide prevention and to provide materials that can be displayed and distributed.
Discrimination, racism, and oppression are violence, which begets more violence. Centuries of marginalizing groups and blocking their access to resources has created disparities that must be addressed for a more equitable and thriving future.
71. Advance health equity and racial justice. Health inequities often occur along racial and ethnic lines as do risk factors for exposure to violence. Investigations of problems and discovery of solutions must center the experiences, perspectives, and approaches of people of color. Working toward ensuring everyone has access to health-promoting circumstances and removing barriers created by race-based policies and practices would also address and prevent violence in its multiple forms and on all levels. The Prevention Institute offers a helpful concept paper with strategic opportunities for bridging health equity and racial justice.
72. Confront the ongoing impacts of historical racism. The effects of redlining, the process of denying credit for real estate investment based upon race, can be seen today as enduring economic disparities. Researchers in Kentucky examined the correlation between redlined areas from a 1937 map of Louisville and current prevalence of gun violence. They found red-graded neighborhoods had five times as many gunshot victims as green-graded neighborhoods, demonstrating the lasting harm of structural systems designed to disenfranchise and oppress individuals based upon race. Continued examination of the influence of historical racism must be included in violence prevention research, programs, and policies to dig it out as a structural root cause of violence.
Benns, M., Ruther, M., Nash, N., Bozeman, M., Harbrecht, B., & Miller, K. (2020). The impact of historical racism on modern gun violence: Redlining in the city of Louisville, KY. International Journal of the Care of the Injured, 51(10). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2020.06.042.
73. Understand the connection between residential segregation, mobility, and violence. Cities across the United States continue to be segregated along racial lines, creating inequity and risk factors for several negative outcomes, including exposure to violence. Inequities extend to mobility within metropolitan areas, meaning that people may stay within their own neighborhoods and not travel to or through other neighborhoods. Researchers have found this concentrated mobility is significantly associated with rates of violence. While more research is needed, considering improving the diversity of neighborhoods as well as the connectedness among neighborhoods and through cities has the potential to address violence.
Sampson, R. & Levy, B. L. (2020). Beyond Residential Segregation: Mobility-Based Connectedness and Rates of Violence in Large Cities. Race and Social Problems, 12(1), 77-86. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-019-09273-0.
74. Address the connection between structural racism and firearm homicide mortality. Structural racism is the cultural, institutional, historic, and contemporary practices and policies that produce cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It is a set of factors that limit access and opportunity, prohibiting individuals and communities from thriving. Wanting to understand its connection with gun violence, researchers evaluated measures of structural racism in 51 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) across the United States. Particular attention was paid to Black-White segregation—the geographic separation of populations based on race. They found that firearm mortality was associated with multiple measures of structural racism and racial disparity, including White-Black segregation index, unemployment rate, poverty rate, single parent household, percent Black population, and crime rates. As such, ending gun violence must address these structural inequities and look to systemic change in addition to working on the individual, interpersonal, and community levels.
Houghton, A., Jackson-Weaver, O., Toraih, E., Burley, N., Byrne, T., McGrew, P., Duchesne, J., Tatum, D., & Taghavi, S. (2021). Firearm homicide mortality is influenced by structural racism in US metropolitan areas. The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 91(1), 64-71. https://doi.org/10.1097/TA.0000000000003167.
75. Understand the role frequent policing plays in racial health and wellbeing inequities. A growing body of research has found that frequent policing in communities - a potential indicator of structural racism - is associated with diminished health and well-being of the residents in those communities, and disproportionate rates of police surveillance and encounters may contribute to inequities in health and violence. Researchers at Tulane have examined the relationships between neighborhood police stop-and-frisk encounters and both health outcomes and violence rates. They found that when compared to neighborhoods with lower rates of police encounters, those with high rates experienced statistically significantly more violent crime and domestic violence events. Municipal and state leadership should consider theoretically and empirically based alternatives to frequent policing that may be efficacious at reducing violence.
Theall, K., Francois, S., Bell, C., Anderson, A., Chae, D., & LaVeist, T. (2022) Neighborhood Police Encounters, Health, and Violence in a Southern City. Health Affairs, 41(2). https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2021.01428.
76. Apply intersectionality to programs designed to prevent intimate partner violence. When developing and implementing policy and programs intended to prevent intimate partner violence, public health practitioners, researchers, providers, policymakers, and community members must consider how race, class, ability, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and other social identities intersect and interact in an individual’s life. This includes examining interactions in and with social and structural systems that can create oppression. IPV prevention efforts must address multiple identities, multiple forms of oppression, and the intersections between them. Some ways to do this include proactively including community members with intersecting identities in all aspects of prevention, from program planning to program leadership, and identifying boundaries or barriers to receiving services before they are implemented or removing them if they are present.
Bowleg. (2012). The problem with the phrase women and minorities: Intersectionality-an important theoretical framework for public health. American Journal of Public Health (1971), 102(7), 1267-1273. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2012.300750.
77. Address the connection between racial discrimination experiences and intimate partner violence. Programs and policies that intend to prevent and treat IPV in the African American / Black community should address the negative effects of racial discrimination experiences on mental health and partner aggression, especially among those with multiple marginalized identities. Researchers have identified racial discrimination as a risk factor for exposure to IPV among Black individuals, especially for those with multiple marginalized identities, specifically Black women and those living in poverty. Therefore, IPV prevention efforts can be enhanced through an overarching commitment to dismantle structural racism and intersectional forms of oppression.
Maldonado, A. I., Murphy, C. M., Davis, M., Evans, M. K., & Zonderman, A. B. (2022). Racial discrimination, mental health symptoms, and intimate partner violence perpetration in Black adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 90(3), 209-220. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000712.
78. End stigma and silence around intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ community to increase supportive resources. Conversations around IPV often center heteronormative constructs like men’s violence against women. This can make LGBTQ individuals feel isolated in their experience. That’s why organizations like National Coalition of Anti-violence Programs and Forge provide toolkits, assessments, and resources to support LGBTQ survivors of IPV and move toward prevention.
79. Incorporate violence prevention practices that support people with disabilities and Deaf people. With higher rates of abuse and violence, lack of access, and limited violence prevention efforts, people with disabilities and Deaf people have difficulties in finding the support and services they need to feel safe and heal. Anyone working in survivor support and violence prevention can learn more about best practices through the End Abuse of People with Disabilities website. It offers tools and training, including an assessment to understanding an organization’s strengths and barriers to effectively serve survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors.
80. Address disparities in youth suicide risk. Suicide prevention is violence prevention. Supporting the mental health needs of young people is one part of an overall suicide prevention strategy, especially since young people experience discrimination and systemic inequities which can impact their development and increase their risk for suicide. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that “Black students and American Indian/Alaska Native students are more likely to receive a disciplinary response to mental health-related behavior changes than white students who are more likely to receive support and referral to mental health services, contributing to a phenomenon known as the ‘school to prison pipeline.’” Communities and schools along with pediatric health clinics can play a significant role in preventing suicide through evidence-based interventions.
No matter the type of violence, change must occur at the societal level in order for prevention approaches to be long-lasting. Social norms and policies must discourage violence and instead encourage equity, fairness, and human connectedness.
81. Invest in the public health approach to violence prevention. A public health approach can address structural factors linked to susceptibility to violence. Research in this area indicates that increasing investment in the following can advance protective factors across the lifespan:
- Access to health care and treatment
- Community violence intervention
- Civilian crisis response
The Brookings Institute has published “A New Community Safety Blueprint: How the Federal Government Can Address Violence & Harm Through a Public Health Approach.” These recommendations of investment aren’t just for federal policymakers. States and municipalities also have the authority and capacity to make similar investments.
82. Understand the links among multiple forms of violence. People and communities experience violence in overlapping ways, and certain conditions give rise to many forms of violence, including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child maltreatment, bullying, suicidal behavior, and elder abuse and neglect. This may take place in the home, in school, at work, or within neighborhoods, and they can happen at the same time or at different stages of life. The forms of violence are interconnected and often share the same root causes. Understanding the overlapping causes of violence and the factors that can protect people and communities is important to better address violence in all its forms. To clarify the relationships among eight forms of violence, Prevention Institute developed Connecting the Dots with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those interested in violence prevention in one form can use this guide to coordinate their efforts, increase their impact, and work toward preventing multiple forms of violence at once.
Wilkins, N., Tsao, B., Hertz, M., Davis, R., Klevens, J. (2014). Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links Among Multiple Forms of Violence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Oakland, CA: Prevention Institute.
83. Learn about, recognize, and intervene in the warning signs of violence. Negative emotions can be challenging, but being able to identify and label them supports healthy coping mechanisms. This can prevent someone from harming themself or others. The American Psychological Association has a helpful guide on how to deal with anger and whether you or someone you know are at risk for violent behavior, recognize warning signs of violence in others, and discover what can help.
84. Learn the signs of elder abuse and how to prevent and report it. Harm to older adults can take many forms, including neglect or physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse. Everyone within a community can play a role in preventing elder abuse by checking on their neighbors, listening to their concerns, and offering support to them and their caregivers, and noticing the signs of elder abuse.
85. Leverage bystander training to prevent sexual violence. Bystander training raises awareness about sexual violence and equips individuals with ways to intervene. Through attitude and behavior change, everyone can learn how to recognize harmful behavior and take responsibility to address it. Various forms of bystander training exist, and researchers have studied approaches to and the efficacy at preventing sexual violence. One systematic review examines the evidence base around bystander training and suggests applications beyond preventing sexual violence. Schools, organizations, and business owners can offer bystander training to keep staff and those they serve and their communities safe.
Mujal, G.N., Taylor, M. E., Fry, J. L., Gochez-Kerr, T. H., & Weaver, N. L. (2021). A Systematic Review of Bystander Interventions for the Prevention of Sexual Violence. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 22(2), 381-396. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838019849587.
86. Implement and support street outreach and community norm change approaches. Programs like Cure Violence and Safe Streets connect trained outreach staff with residents to mediate conflicts, promote nonviolence norms, and connect youth to community supports to reduce risks and build buffers against violence. These programs go beyond intervening in violence to provide positive mentors to young people and link them to educational opportunities, employment training and assistance, and mental health services. They also engage the community with public education and neighborhood events to foster beliefs that violence in any form is not acceptable.
87. Create change within communities. This doesn’t just apply to community violence. It applies to interpersonal violence as well, including intimate partner violence. Society often treats IPV as being private and only addressable at the individual and personal levels. A public health approach to IPV includes change at the community and societal levels as well, which means everyone can play a role in ending IPV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed resources and technical packages that include cross-cutting prevention efforts, community-level prevention, strategies and approaches to prevent intimate partner and sexual violence, information on race, class, gender and social determinants of health, and a vision for the future of the prevention field.
88. Expand Medicaid. Access to health care provides much needed well-being support for individual’s mental and physical health. This social determinant of health is also a protective factor for exposure to violence. Researchers have studied the relationship between access to health care and criminal behaviors and found that increased access, including an expansion to Medicaid, has the potential to reduce crime. Several cost-benefit analyses show that this is a cost-effective policy change to reduce crime, especially when compared to carceral solutions, and reduce recidivism among offenders convicted of violent crimes. One study found that the estimated decrease in reported crime amounts to an annual cost savings of $13 billion.
Aslim, E. Mungan, M. C., Navarro, C. I., & Yu, H. (2022). The Effect of Public Health Insurance on Criminal Recidivism. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 41(1), 45-91. https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.22345.
Vogler, J. (2020). Access to Healthcare and Criminal Behavior: Evidence from the ACA Medicaid Expansions. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 39(4), 1166-1213. https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.22239.
89. Fund research to understand the causes of gun violence and the impacts of potential solutions. As part of the public health approach to gun violence prevention, research can guide organizations, communities, cities, states, and the country as a whole implement effective programs and policies. A Research Roundup from the Giffords Law Center offers an analysis of gun violence publication trends in 2021 and identifies several areas that should be addressed within the field of gun violence research.
90. Organize interventions around procedural justice principles, especially for law enforcement. Procedural justice refers to the idea of fair processes and how an individual’s perception of fairness relates to the quality and result of their experiences within various systems. It includes four pillars - voice, respect, neutrality, and trustworthiness - which enable individuals involved in various processes to express their concerns, give and receive dignity and respect, have confidence that all those involved care about the outcomes, and participate in unbiased and transparent decision-making processes. Research demonstrates that procedural justice is critical for law enforcement authorities, emphasizing transparency, explaining policing actions, responding to community concerns, and decreases harmful policing practices, and prevents violence. As a study in Chicago shows, procedural justice is an effective alternative to the force-based command and control model used in most law enforcement agencies.
Wood, G., Tyler, T. R., & Papachristos, A. V. (2020). Procedural justice training reduces police use of force and complaints against officers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - PNAS, 117(18), 9815-9821. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1920671117.
91. Employ a civilian crisis response model. Cities can use a community responder model to send the right support to calls related to behavioral health crises, wellness checks, or intoxication as well as calls related to quality of life. The Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) program in Eugene, Oregon is one example.
92. Incorporate de-escalation tactics into police training. Use of de-escalation tactics during encounters with citizens is one way being examined to prevent police violence. Training officers on how to achieve a calm or neutral state for all participants in a conflict can resolve highly confrontational situations without the use of force. To understand the potential advantages of this training, researchers partnered with a local police department and examined the relationships between receipt of the training and police interactions. De-escalation training resulted in reductions in use of force incidents, citizen injuries, and officer injuries, which demonstrates the potential for this training to make police encounters with the public safer for all.
Engel, R.S., Corsaro, N., Isaza, G. T., & McManus, H. D. (2022). Assessing the impact of de‐escalation training on police behavior: Reducing police use of force in the Louisville, KY Metro Police Department. Criminology & Public Policy, 21(2), 199-233. https://doi.org/10.1111/1745-9133.12574.
93. Promote safe firearm storage. So many gun injuries and deaths, including those that are due accidents or suicidality, can be prevented through safe gun storage. Theft also decreases with the proper storage of firearms. Gun shops can support gun owners by educating them on safe storage options, and use of safe storage in homes can keep firearms out of reach of children, young adults, and those who may have suicidal ideation.
Rowhani-Rahbar, A., Simonetti, J. A., & Rivara, F. P. (2016). Effectiveness of Interventions to Promote Safe Firearm Storage. Epidemiologic Reviews, 38(1), 111-124. https://doi.org/10.1093/epirev/mxv006.
94. Talk to others about safe storage of firearms. Gun safety doesn’t have to be a taboo topic. In fact, talking about gun safety can save lives. Resources from End Family Fire encourage these conversations and have tips on how doctors can talk with patients, how parents can talk with other parents, and how family members and friends can talk with one another. Asking someone about their safe storage practices can prevent unintentional firearm injuries and suicides.
95. Understand and utilize lethal means safety approaches for suicide prevention. Individuals, their loved ones, and their friends can engage in an intentional, voluntary practice to reduce suicide risk by limiting access to lethal means like firearms, medications, alcohol, or any item that can be used to self-harm. Increasing the time and distance between an individual and their access to lethal means can reduce risk and save lives. The Veterans Administration provides several resources for both individuals and communities on lethal means safety. This VA resource lists actions and information for individuals. Additionally, the VA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) have compiled tips for safely storing firearms as well as best practices for engaging the community about safe firearm storage.
96. Leverage opportunity to innovate policy that prevents gun violence. A special issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) dedicated to firearms and violence explores a new era for prevention through policy. An increase in previously nonexistent funding to research gun violence can provide insight into decision-making at multiple levels. In the past, an evidence base around the dangers of smoking changed public opinion and policy. Now, the same can and should be done around firearms to guide individuals and policymakers.
Morral, A.R. & Smart, R. (2022). A New Era for Firearm Violence Prevention Research. Journal of the American Medical Association, 328(12):1197-1198. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2796679.
97. Learn about and support sensible gun laws. Research shows that legislation is effective at reducing gun violence, and that most gun laws are compatible with Second Amendment interpretations. You can be informed about the gun laws in your state and learn more about the intention behind each policy by visiting the Giffords Law Center.
98. Vote. Several evidence-based and data-driven ways to prevent violence focus on equity, investing in communities, supporting families, and improving the built environment to give people access and opportunity so that they can thrive. We all deserve a future free from violence, and elected officials can help make that happen. Voting in each election can hold policymakers accountable and put those in office who align with violence prevention strategies that work without creating additional harm.
99. Share information about violence prevention. If you find something useful on this page, send it to or talk about it with someone you know or a group you lead.
100. Discover more resources to support violence prevention.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/index.html
Safe States Alliance: https://www.safestates.org/
Prevention Institute: https://www.preventioninstitute.org/