Awarded Cooperative Agreement for Youth Violence Prevention


The primary goal of the proposed project is to support a National Academic Center of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention to develop and evaluate a comprehensive prevention strategy designed to reduce rates of violence among youth in Richmond, Virginia and similar communities across the United States. This goal is consistent with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 goal of reducing levels of intentional injury associated with youth violence. The project’s specific objectives are: (1) To implement a comprehensive youth violence prevention strategy at the community level with the following empirically- supported components: (a) school-based universal and selective interventions for middle school youth, (b) a community intervention designed to provide high quality youth development programs and resources for 10-to- 20 year old youth in high-risk neighborhoods within the community, and (c) a selective family intervention for high-risk youth aged 11-to-17; (2) To evaluate the community-level impact of this comprehensive strategy through continuous collection of data on community-level indicators of youth violence perpetration and victimization using a multiple baseline design with three high-risk communities; (3) To evaluate the effectiveness of each component within this comprehensive strategy by assessing their impact on the risk and protective factors they target; (4) To develop a plan to sustain the intervention in the participating communities and prepare materials to support its dissemination in other communities should it be found effective; and (5) To mentor and provide training to doctoral-level students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty in youth violence prevention. This project focuses on three high-risk communities in the City of Richmond, Virginia. Between 1999 and 2006, the homicide rate among 15-to-24 year olds in Richmond ranged from 50.5 to 108.5 per 100,000 representing more than 5 times to nearly 9 times the national average. Specific communities for this project represent middle school attendance zones for Boushall, Elkhardt, and Thompson middle schools. These communities were selected based on community input and review of surveillance data indicating high rates of violence-related injuries among youth in these communities. Within these communities, violence- related discipline incidents in the middle schools were 35 to 41 per 100 students in the 2008-2009 school year. Rates of emergency department visits for violence-related injuries for youth aged 10-to-24 ranged from 6 to 11 per 1,000 in the past 7 years. Violence-related offenses reported by the Department of Juvenile Justice for youth aged 10-to-19 were 11 per 1,000 in 2009. The project will randomly assign communities within a multiple-baseline design such that the intervention will begin in one of the communities at the end of Year 1, in the second community at the end of Year 2, and will not begin in the third community until after the end of the project. Outcomes include community surveillance data on youth violence-related indicators and surveys of middle school students, a community sample of youth aged 14-to-19, and a selective sample of high risk youth.