Violence is a contagious disease that has long term effects on health (Slutkin, 2012). The disease has become an epidemic ac ross the country, which has affected the African-American community at a disproportionate rate (Dahlberg and Mercy, 2009). Violence represents a major health, criminal justice, human rights, and development challenge (http://www.who.int/violenceprevention/ publications). This multi-city project aims to educate community members from Ferguson, MO, and Chicago, IL, on the long-term effects of exposure to violence. The target population in Chicago is the community of Austin. Ferguson is a small community; however, it is recognized nationally for the demonstrations and unrest that erupted after the August 9, 2014, shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Being healthy is not a silo-based activity. Effective interventions that reduce violence require collaboration, education, and involvement of many individuals on many levels.
Mercy et. al, (2002) described many of the various risk factors that have been shown to contribute to community violence. Individual risk factors include a personal history of victimization of violence, high emotional stress, and exposure to violence and conflict. Family risk factors include low parental education, low income, poor family functioning and low parental involvement. Community risk factors include diminished economic opportunities, high concentration of poor residents, and socially disorganized neighborhoods. All which are prevalent in violent communities.
Wicked Problem Description:
This multi-city project aims to join in the search for effective intervention models to break the cycle of violence. This project is predicated on the presumption of a societal moral responsibility to seek to provide community members education that will promote healthier lifestyles, coping mechanisms, support systems, and early detection and monitoring. This education would provide immediate benefits for the target communities and provide an effective national model that will mitigate and alleviate the escalating incidence and prevalence of community violence in our nation for generations to come.
Violence is a health equity issue. Scientific literature has shown violence impacts the physical and mental health. While violence is a reality in the world that we live in, some communities and groups, however, are more exposed to social conditions that create a medium for violence and can make violence a normal part of life. Inequities in violence-related outcomes are related to various systemic issues. In order to achieve health equity and transform communities, violence must be addressed. Improving healthful social conditions fo r all will ensure all benefit from the same basic rights, security, and opportunities. If we strive to promote the best social and physical conditions for all, then we will increase health equity and reduce health disparities. The World Health Organization (WHO) views violence as “one of the leading public health issues of our time. Violence is preventable. Preventing violence has a tremendous value, not just saving lives, but it also promotes health equity and strengthen communities.”
This multi-city violence intervention project will promote awareness by educating community members on the effects of violence on the health. As leaders, the Clinical Scholars, Lachell Wardell and Tonita Smith, will reach out to community-based organizations, schools, faith-based organizations, healthcare providers, and afterschool programs to promote the vision of good health for these communities that have been impacted by violence (Rowitz, 2014).
- A multi-city advisory board was developed that included both Clinical Scholars. Several meetings were held to strategize on ways to approach community leaders regarding violence prevention.
- Project was expanded to a multi-city project which included Chicago and Ferguson.
- IRB review was established through Creighton University (Omaha, NE).
- CS Team was invited to join St. Louis ReCAST Coalition of Stakeholders after engaging St. Louis Public Health Department.
- The development of a curriculum which infuses mental health and resilience aspects into how violence affects health was started.
- Presentation in Chicago to educate faith – based community members on the impact of trauma on health.
- Parents were surveyed in Chicago on the effects of violence on health.
- Anti-Violence Awareness video w as created featuring youth from Ferguson, Missouri. This video was used to create a social media campaign that is featured on Facebook and YouTube. Here is the link: https://youtu.be/l2kchr-e3LA
Anticipated Future Outcomes:
- Empower educators, parents, and clergy in both cities through education on the effects that violence has on health.
- Educate community members on the importance of clinical screenings for youth.
- Advocate for policies that extend protective factors to at-risk community members
For the remaining two years, Clinical Scholars working in each city will develop a curriculum which infuses mental health and resilience aspects into how violence affects health to educate community members. In addition, each city will launch a campaign that will include speaking engagements that promote awareness. The Clinical Scholars will use media, radio ads, and billboards for this health promotion campaign. Clinical Scholars will use education as a prevailing program for this population-based strategy. The Clinical Scholars will also use focus groups with community members to evaluate their perceptions on their community. The Clinical Scholars will also work community-based organization to help a trauma-informed care model to reach community members.
—Chicago Site – By the Hand Organization, Emmanuel Health and Social Services, and Creighton University.
—St. Louis Site – Believers Temple Word Fellowship, Urban Initiatives, YPALA
This project will examine:
- Promotion of awareness of the effects of violence through education in the community
- The effectiveness of outreach efforts to promote a vision for good health among community based organizations, schools, faith-based organization, healthcare providers, and afterschool programs where the population has been impacted by violence
- Evidence of engagement of participants in focus groups
- Effectiveness on the empowerment of educators, parents, and clergy through education on the effects that violence has on health
- Educate community members on the importance of clinical screenings
- Effectiveness of advocacy for policies that extend protective factors to at risk community members