An epidemic of violent crime in the United States has resulted in a 24-percent increase in homicides in large cities during the first quarter of 2021 when compared to the first quarter of 2020—and a 49-percent increase over the same period in 2019, according to the Council on Criminal Justice.
Exposure to violence disrupts teens' development, harms their mental and physical health, and increases the likelihood that they will engage in risky behaviors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Evidence-based community violence intervention programs have been shown to reduce homicides by as much as 60 percent. Intervention strategies use a range of trauma-informed methods to engage people most at risk of becoming involved in gun violence:
- Group interventions seek to deter violence through collective efforts, engaging police officers, faith leaders, social service providers, and others in the community.
- Violence-interruption programs deploy trusted messengers to intervene in conflicts and connect participants with social support services.
- Hospital-based violence interventions engage shooting victims while they are hospitalized, intending to decrease future involvement in gun violence.
OJJDP is supporting the Biden-Harris Administration's comprehensive plan to address the nationwide spike in urban homicides by emphasizing community violence intervention strategies in a number of its programs. OJJDP revised two of its fiscal year (FY) 2021 solicitations to prioritize applicants' use of these strategies:
- The Office will award $6.5 million under its Strategies To Support Children Exposed to Violence program to seven sites that implement community violence intervention strategies in projects for children exposed to violence at home, in school, or in the wider community. OJJDP will also provide $500,000 for a training and technical assistance provider to support project sites.
- The Office will award $11 million under its Comprehensive Youth Violence Prevention and Reduction program to 11 project sites to develop and implement intervention- and deterrence-focused strategies for reducing youth gun and gang violence. The program encourages close collaborations among community-based organizations, service providers, and law enforcement.
OJJDP's National Gang Center will receive nearly $1 million in FY 2021 supplemental funding to bring community violence intervention strategies to interested communities. OJJDP and the National Gang Center are also collaborating on a publication series that focuses on OJJDP-supported community violence intervention initiatives. The series will address how to assess community needs and build an effective intervention program. The Office currently supports 48 anti-gang program sites.
Watch the first two episodes of a White House-sponsored webinar series on community violence intervention—Evidence-based Theory and Research on CVI and Place-based Approaches to CVI. The National Gang Center is offering a separate webinar series on community violence intervention strategies.
OJJDP's Comprehensive Gang Model offers a collaborative approach designed to prevent and reduce gang violence. The Office has emphasized use of the model by its gang prevention grantees. The OJJDP-funded Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Children Exposed to Violence and Childhood Trauma toolkit offers law enforcement professionals resources to respond to children who have been exposed to violence.