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ACE Center Descriptions: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
PI: Paul Smokowski, Ph.D.


The North Carolina Rural Academic Center of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (NC-ACE) was created in collaboration with the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, School of Social Work’s Jordan Institute for Families (JIF), the UNC Injury Prevention Research Institute and many Robeson Community local organizations, including public, non-profit and county government entities. The specific aim of NC-ACE is to reduce youth violence in Robeson County by implementing and evaluating a multifaceted, evidence-based approach to prevent perpetration of youth violence. In accordance, researchers are engaging in a planning process with community partners to identify the needs of the community by identifying risk factors that are unique to Robeson County’s population and adopting evidence-based interventions that have proven to be effective in preventing youth violence. The Center’s youth violence prevention initiative will address significant gaps in youth violence research in multi-cultural settings through the evaluation of NC-ACE’s prevention interventions in Robeson County.

The NC-ACE chose Robeson County for its unique population characteristics and socio-economic disparities. This county is ranked the third poorest mid-size county in the Unites States. Over 34% of the population is living in poverty. In addition, this county is part of the 10% of the Unites States that are majority-minority; its ethnically diverse (Native America, African American and Latino residents) residents consist of more than 69% of the county’s total population of 129,123 people. Thirty-eight percent of the population consists of the Lumbee tribe, which has established itself as the majority ethnic group in Robeson County. In addition, youth violence has been an increasing concern in Robeson County. Juvenile arrests rates have increased from 18,457 in 2005 to 17,809 in 2006. For this reason, the county has been ranked first in juvenile arrest rates in North Carolina. The youth death rate within this community is nearly double (123.6 per 100,000 youth) the state’s rate of 74.7. This is a reflection of the county’s homicide rate which is almost triple that of the state’s average of 7.2 between 2004-2007.

NC-ACE has a strong partnership with the Robeson County Health Department, the Center for Community Action, and the Public Schools of Robeson County. This partnership will enable them to implement and evaluate multiple programs in Robeson County and within the School System, the Justice System, and Family Services. The overall approach is to track community and school rates of violence (including school suspensions, juvenile arrests, delinquent acts, complaints against juveniles, and self-reported violent behaviors) within Robeson County and the other 99 counties in North Carolina using both propensity score matching and regression point displacement design.

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