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Outreach to the Highest Risk: Violence Prevention in Chicago

Xavier D. Williams, BA, School of Public Health, UIC, The Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, 1603 W. Taylor Street (m/c 923), Chicago, IL 60612, 312 355-3495, elenaq@uic.edu and Francisco Perez, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health, Chicago Project for Violence Prevention/ CeaseFire, 1603 W. Taylor, Chicago, IL 60612.

The Chicago Project for Violence Preventionís main objective is to stop the shooting in Chicago. Each year more than 75% of the estimated 600, firearms kill homicide victims in Chicago. Those most likely to shoot or be shot are young Latino or African American males. The average Chicago homicide perpetrator has eight prior felony convictions. The average victim has nine (Chicago Police Department). In an effort to reach those most likely to suffer the deleterious effects of engaging in violence, the Chicago Project for Violence prevention has created an outreach program in five Chicago neighborhoods. The outreach workers are charged with making contact with youth most at risk for committing violence, for referring youth to positive alternatives, mediating conflicts on the spot to prevent violence, and organizing community members to respond when there are shootings. Outreach workers encounter many dangers and obstacles at work. These workers must understand the dynamics of the community, be able to build trust with youth in the community, and be viewed as legitimately working for the benefit of the community. A 2002 study showed that the forty outreach workers in the five communities worked with 900 clients. The average age of these youth was 19.5 years old. Outreach staff made 346 referrals for employment opportunities or training, 256 for youth to get back into school or into alternative school. From these referrals, 20% of youth gained employment and 36% returned to school.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Violence Prevention, Outreach Programs

Related Web page: www.ceasefirechicago.org

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

From Rural to Urban: Community Health Workers Promoting Healthy Communities

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA