PI and Advancement Project Paper Captures Broader Evidence on Community Safety
“People who live in a place must be involved in defining
the problem and the solutions.”
--from "Community Safety: A Building Block for Community Health"
For too long, the field has equated preventing violence with implementing only “evidence-based” programs deemed effective by the most rigorous research methods. Our new groundbreaking publication, Community Safety: A Building Block for Community Health, draws on evidence the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed equally valid — the context and experience that practitioners and residents bring.*
Developed in partnership with Advancement Project, this report identifies strategies grounded in community and practitioner wisdom, lifting up the tactics that people most affected by community violence say are important. The paper presents a theory of change for how communities can counter the causes of violence to build safe communities. It showcases nine priority strategies for making communities safer, recommended by sites participating in The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative. The strategies include:
• Safe Public Places
• Safe Schools
• Economic Opportunity
• Successful Re-Entry and Re-Integration
• Community Cohesion
• Community Partnerships with Criminal Justice
In all of our work in California and across the U.S., Prevention Institute emphasizes meaningful community engagement. It is paramount that the people most affected by decisions are part of the process, bringing their priorities to the fore and ensuring that the community’s history and context are in the mix. When asked what would make their communities safer, the BHC sites made it a point to improve places and systems.
In our experience working with cities, such as through our UNITY initiative, there’s great value in strategies that affect institutions and benefit everyone, not just specific individuals or families. Evaluating these comprehensive, population-based efforts requires more complex methodology, but it’s clearly the direction the field is headed. Safety is essential for good community health, and we agree with the BHC sites that this place-based approach has immense potential to transform communities across the U.S. for the better.
*Puddy, R. W. & Wilkins, N. (2011). Understanding Evidence Part 1: Best Available Research Evidence. A Guide to the Continuum of Evidence of Effectiveness. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.