Impact of Violence Prevention & Intervention Programs
Interested in making an impact through violence prevention and intervention? Here are a few tCI programs in need of support:
Violence in families and communities undermines people’s lives on a daily basis. While violence certainly asserts itself across socio-economic lines, it is endemic in high-poverty, urban neighborhoods. The most obvious effects of violence are physical; the more insidious consequences involve psychological and emotional devastation. Violence in families and in the larger community are often inextricably tied and mutually reinforcing. For instance, domestic and gang violence in at-risk communities lead to serious problems—long-term psychological, health, and academic—for all those involved; these are particularly damaging to young people.
When domestic violence takes place in a community burdened with chronic violence, a destructive cycle begins. Violence in the family forces many young people out onto the streets. This is most often their only way to escape their dysfunctional home environments. Once on the streets, they are now forced to protect themselves. Often their only available option is looking to gangs for refuge. In exchange for that protection and sense of family, vulnerable youth are often forced to participate in gang violence and drug use as demonstration of their loyalty to the group. It is rare not to find children who have been exposed to such violent realities in our urban communities. Of the approximately one million gang members in the U.S., nearly half are under the age of eighteen.
The aggression learned in violent families and gangs can then continue from childhood to adolescence through adulthood, establishing a pattern of persistent violence throughout a person’s life. Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is actually the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder of children living in war zones are alarmingly similar to those of children living in our high-poverty urban communities. Adolescents chronically exposed to violence tend to show higher levels of aggression accompanied by higher rates of school drop-out and truancy.
Keeping kids in school is a vital aspect of violence prevention. At a minimum, the schools provide a solid structure to the students’ days and keep them off the streets. Unfortunately, most schools in these neighborhoods are not equipped to even begin to answer the students’ very real non-academic needs, such as positive one-on-one connections and guidance through their many substantial challenges.
In this reality of significant voids, after-school programs with adults who genuinely and consistently mentor kids and guide their development are often the only oasis offering positive alternatives to the violence. The Claretians’ programs introduce healthy role models, involvement in positive community activities, and access to an environment that promotes constructive coping skills. Being accountable to caring adults helps the kids develop self-confidence as they also learn the social, emotional, and behavioral skills needed for a future that is not determined by violence. Local religious leaders like the Claretians are uniquely positioned to offer people an alternative to violence and to promote thriving, more connected communities.
Read more about tCI's impact through violence prevention and intervention programs on our Impact Blog.