A closer look at this approach: We work with community alliances to craft and communicate a powerful anti-violence message that is part of a broader change strategy. The anti-violence message is delivered to around 20 highest risk young people at a time. These meetings are hosted by a range of partners that might include school principals, coaches, local employers, residents of communities affected by violence, young people formerly involved in violence, advocates, service organizations, criminal justice agencies, family members, and faith leaders.
The meetings are held in a variety of settings of community importance, including community centers, city halls, libraries, and churches.
Each speaker briefly and respectfully acknowledges the power young people have to make choices, while equipping them with reliable information—both positive and negative—about the consequences those choices bring. The power of this message is amplified and intensified by the depth and breadth of each community’s alliance, not through threats or intimidation. The tone is serious and the message bracing but the overarching theme is of a shared concern for the well being of the community—and for the well being of the young people present as part of that community. No one is treated disrespectfully, and lecturing or preaching is not allowed. In effect, this approach marshals credible messengers to deliver a highly customized public health message to young men and women at very highest risk of violence.
The benefits of partnership: These partnerships provide community members with a central role in improving public safety, reduce historical tensions between criminal justice agencies and communities of color, and help build more credible pathways to opportunity for youth at risk of violence. The result is stronger and more resourceful communities better able to ensure public safety while affording young people at highest risk of violence a more promising future.
The evidence: In a recent review of findings, researchers concluded that this approach is extraordinarily effective. In ten of eleven evaluations, the approach was found to dramatically reduce both violence and recidivism. What’s more, the approach worked in a wide range of cities; for example, it was effective in cities as different from each other as Stockton, California and Chicago, Illinois (Braga and Weisburd). This approach has also been used to reduce violent robberies, and eliminate dangerous open-air drug markets.
Where we work: CPSC is working in several California cities, including Sacramento, Richmond, Oxnard, Oakland, Stockton, Salinas and Bakersfield. In partnership with People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) and others, we are also working in Detroit, Michigan. In addition, we are beginning to work on American Indian Reservations.