For eight years now, we have had the honor and privilege of working with individuals, organizations and cities around the country to prevent community violence before it occurs. Together, we are making a difference, and the paradigm has shifted from largely criminal justice only to inclusion of prevention and the public health approach. This means a world of difference for young people and their communities around the country. Here’s what the eight-year UNITY evaluation by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health revealed:
- More attention to preventing violence before it occurs. Increasingly, cities are pursuing upfront strategies that prevent violence before it occurs, to complement intervention, suppression and enforcement activities.
- Enhanced city-wide strategic planning to address violence. All UNITY cities either have a city-wide plan to address youth violence or have discussed developing one in partnership with other sectors.
- Improved collaboration and engagement across sectors and with communities most impacted by violence. Sixty percent of cities reported that collaboration with community members and youth increased since joining UNITY.
- Increased public health involvement in efforts to address violence affecting youth. Nine in 10 city representatives said the health department was the lead sponsor of the local coalition to address violence.
For additional findings and recommendations, read the complete report or Shifting the Paradigm, an overview of the evaluation.
What’s next? We are developing more tools to support cities, such as “Advancing Multi-Sector Approaches to Prevent Community Violence and Violence Affecting Youth,” a Collaboration Multiplier guide scheduled for release in February 2014. We are also looking more closely at the links among multiple forms of violence and the implications for prevention practice.
We’ll keep you posted as we know more.
We wish everyone happy holidays and a peaceful new year.
Five Lessons for Preventing Violence
UNITY Co-Chair Deborah Prothrow-Stith was one of the first people to describe violence as a public health issue, and this publication shares valuable insights for practitioners to prevent violence in the years to come:
1. Invest now instead of paying later. “This message has to be said over and over and over again. Public health and prevention make the case to pay now rather than later.”
2. All violence is connected. “We operate in these silos that we’ve got to break down.”
3. Offer healthy alternatives to violence, “a healthy response to the anger they feel about the social injustices they witness.”
4. Share power. “We need to listen to those who know their community, their situation and the solutions. Survivors of violence inspire this movement. They are the true leaders.”
5. Cultivate empathy. “Our young people are not so different from us. We have to have more empathy and understand some of [their] pain, anger and guilt.”
Dr. Prothrow-Stith shares stories and elaborates on these five lessons in Preventing Violence in the Next Decade, part of the Making the Case series.
A Prevention Institute initiative, UNITY is funded in part by The Kresge Foundation to support multi-sector tools and training for preventing community violence and violence affecting youth. From 2005 to 2013, UNITY was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through two cooperative agreements, and in part by The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) from 2006 to 2009. Created in 1992 as an independent, private foundation, TCWF’s mission is to improve the health and people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness, education, and disease prevention programs.