191204 UNITY: An Assessment of Youth Violence Prevention Activities in USA Cities

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 12:30 PM

Billie Weiss, MPH , Epidemology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Purpose: UNITY (Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth through violence prevention) is an effort to address youth violence in the 45 largest US cities with a unified public health approach. This paper presents findings from key informant interviews conducted between December 2006 and April 2007 to assess current violence prevention activities in cities.

Methods: A purposive sample of 12 cities was selected to represent diversity in geographic location and rates of fatal youth violence. Telephone interviews were conducted with Mayors, Police Chiefs, Public Health Directors, and School Superintendents or their designated representatives to collect information on current violence prevention activities. Interviews were completed with 45 informants.

Results: Informants perceived their city's youth violence to be serious (mean 7.4 on a ten-point scale). On average, informants scored the effectiveness of their cities' strategies as 6.0. Forty-five percent reported their city's approach to violence as intervention and/or suppression. Eighty-nine percent reported working with law enforcement to address violence compared to 56% reported working with public health.

Conclusion: Informants identified youth violence as a serious issue in US cities. However, very few reported the use of primary prevention to stop violence before it occurs; resources are primarily directed at aftermath responses. These findings highlight the need to develop a national strategy for violence prevention that supports cities in the development and implementation of a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable city-wide strategy that includes prevention on an equal basis with intervention and suppression.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe current youth violence prevention activities in a sample of U.S.A cities. 2. Discuss the public health departmentsí current role in youth violence prevention.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Expert in the area
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.