Violence Prevention Programs
July 12, 2016
Posted by: Jeremy Russell, Communications Manager
For the past 16 days we have been encouraging a wide variety of actions against gun violence. One key way to take action that we have not yet discussed is by supporting the many community-based programs preventing violence before it’s initiated. There are organizations and agencies at work every day in the Bay Area helping youth and adults to shift cultural norms, as well as local policies and practices, in order to create a climate free from violence. For today, day 17 of our #18days Against Gun Violence, we are highlighting five groups whose efforts have been impactful.
Like most of the groups on this list, 1000 Mothers to Prevent Violence's mission is to ease the detrimental impact of violence on homicide victim survivors by providing ongoing compassionate support and services. Among the specific services provided by 1000 Mothers are COPE, a grief support and prayer group; Project SSMART (Study, Support, Music, Martial Arts, Resources Therapy), a new and innovative program for grieving children, parents, grandparents and caretakers; and ongoing “Aftercare for Next of Kin.” In addition, 1000 Mothers provides advocacy throughout the Bay Area for violence prevention policies, as well as providing guidance on strategies within communities. The organization works in collaboration with the Legal Community Against Violence and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Oakland Unite describes itself as a “public safety collaboration.” It consists of a coalition of community-based organizations, public agencies, and residents using proven and effective means to reduce violence in Oakland. All of Oakland Unite’s programs target the highest-risk community members and neighborhoods, with a particular focus on interrupting violence now as it is occurring and preventing future violence. Based in the Human Services Department, Oakland Unite is funded by tax-payer dollars and has brought in over $15 million in state and federal grants to support the local investment in violence intervention and prevention. Oakland Unite programs have provided intensive interventions to over 4,000 individuals per year and reaches over 17,000 people annually through outreach and community events.
United Playaz is a violence prevention and youth development organization that has worked in San Francisco for 20 years. The group runs a clubhouse in the SoMa District and operates from the key insight that communities prosper from within. The dedicated team, who share backgrounds similar to the youth they serve, work to provide a safe and positive environment, a consistent ‘home,’ that most of its participants lack in other facets of their daily lives. “Our kids feel liberated when given a personal sense of security from those they can trust,” the group explains on its website. “Youth have the opportunity to grow from our foundation of love and support.” The youth that gather at United Playaz are very diverse – African American, Asian, Latino, Samoan, white and multi-racial youth are encouraged to overcome barriers and form bonds of friendship.
In addition to having a Trauma Recovery Center focused on promoting healing by providing respectful, compassionate and effective mental health and medical services, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has developed a program specifically to interrupt what they see as a “revolving door of violent injuries.” Realizing that patience often become serious about changing their lives while in the hospital, UCSF initiated the San Francisco Wraparound Project to connect with young people at this critical moment. By working directly with survivors of violent injury, the Wraparound Project’s case managers are more likely to able to address the root causes of violence. Wraparound has also enabled a better understanding of the forces leading to violent injuries in San Francisco and helped to find resources in the community to address the multiple causes.
Oakland-based Youth ALIVE! has educated and trained young leaders to create a more peaceful community since 1991. Youth ALIVE!’s network of mentors, youth leaders, counselors, case managers, intervention specialists and violence interrupters work to help people who have been violently wounded to heal themselves and their community. The organization’s goal is to interrupt the cycle of violence on the streets by convincing angry victims and their loved ones not to retaliate. Staff members provide ongoing support to help the wounded and grieving, meeting clients where they are – at home, in school, at the hospital bedsides of young shooting victims and on the streets.
In addition to the local organizations listed above, there also exists at the state level an Epidemiology and Prevention for Injury Control Branch (EPIC) Violence Prevention Unit (VPU). The EPIC VPU seeks to address violence by focusing not on individuals and victims, but rather on community and population-based prevention. This primary-prevention, public-health approach is a systematic process that promotes healthy behaviors and environments. Instead of waiting until after victimization has occurred, the VPU provides proactive referrals to services for those who are at risk.
PHOTO: Vigil in support of the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting by George Ian Bowles (via Wikimedia Commons)