Representatives from some of America's largest urban cities gathered in Washington, DC last week with one goal: to find the most effective means of preventing violence in their communities. The meeting, convened through Prevention Institute's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC)-funded Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY) initiative, resulted in a nearly unparalleled accomplishment. Law enforcement officials, community leaders, public health officials and representatives from mayors' offices from cities including San Diego, Cleveland, St. Louis and Boston unanimously approved a new platform for preventing violence across the country: UNITY's Urban Agenda for Preventing Violence, released today.
The Urban Agenda, developed by UNITY in collaboration with its city partners, calls for investment in the development, implementation, coordination, and evaluation of effective and sustainable approaches to prevent community and gang violence.
"This approach works," says Minneapolis Police Department Lieutenant Michael Sullivan, "It's working right here, right now, in my city, where we reduced violence by 40 percent in just two years-and then brought it down another 20 percent. And we didn't do it by increasing arrests. We did it by giving young people opportunities to thrive."
The Urban Agenda recommends:
- Invest in cities to implement effective and sustainable approaches to prevent community and gang violence, with attention to coordinated city and neighborhood-level violence prevention strategies designed to have the greatest impact, including school-based violence prevention, reducing children's exposure to violence, and street outreach.
- Support local planning and implementation through training and capacity building; a national communications campaign; and data, research, and evaluation.
- Encourage collaboration at federal and state levels to support local, urban efforts to prevent violence. This includes creating a mechanism for collaboration in federal and state governments and enhancing public health's capacity to address the ongoing public health crisis of violence.
Homicide is the second leading cause of death for people in the 15 to 24-year-old age group in this country. The Urban Agenda lays out a path to reduce violence among young people in US urban centers by 50 percent. But to make that happen, we need the kind of leadership and vision these city leaders have shown. Our kids' future depends on all of us--from criminal justice to education to public health--stepping up and saying we each can do something to stop violence.
UNITY, funded by the CDC, will help those who have endorsed the Urban Agenda move it towards implementation by providing training and tools to guide their efforts. UNITY's Urban Agenda is a key part of CDC's efforts to bring together leading thinkers and practitioners from business, government, academia and nonprofits to share ideas and brainstorm solutions to youth violence prevention challenges. The UNITY Urban Agenda complements and informs CDC's national youth-violence prevention initiative, STRYVE - Striving To Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere.
View the full Urban Agenda for Preventing Violence here.
UNITY is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the CDC. UNITY is also funded by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation.
"Violence is not the problem of one neighborhood or group, and the response and solutions are not the responsibility of one sector of the community or of one agency, professional group, or business. Coming together and owning this problem and the solutions are central."
-Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Harvard School of Public Health