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Understanding Violence and Developing Resilience With African American Youth in High-Poverty, High-Crime Communities.

NCJ Number
Children and Youth Services Review Volume: 99 Dated: 2019 Pages: 296-307
Katherine T. McCrea; Maryse Richards; Dakari Quimby; Darrick Scott; Lauren Davis; Sotonye Hart; Andre Thomas; Symora Hopson
Date Published
12 pages
Since the scourge of community violence that besets young citizens in high-poverty U.S. communities of color is a compelling social problem to address, the current literature review synthesizes studies of causes and preventive services for youth violence, including randomized controlled experiments and theoretical, case study contributions.
The available evidence indicates that causes of youth violence are complex and interact across multiple layers of social systems. Accordingly, single-factor programs and policies developed for other populations tend to be ineffective for addressing the many injustices with which youth in high-poverty, high-crime communities of color contend; therefore, the current study developed a perspective that is developmental, multi-systemic, and restorative of youths' dignity. Responding to researchers' calls for more contextually-grounded case studies of causes and remedies for youth violence, this study focused on Chicago, where street violence rates in some communities are among the highest in the world and have increased in the last several years. First, the study describes the intersection of catalysts of violence, such as institutional racism, police brutality, deficits in child protection, and deep poverty, in a developmental systems-based framework. Next, the study frames community-service principles with population-specific features, recognizing cultural and community strengths and youths' significant resilience and potential. Drawing from Afrocentric social thought, positive youth development, trauma treatment models, cognitive behavioral, and empowerment approaches, the study describes intervention principles for community-based services. Examples are drawn from decades of work with Chicago's impoverished African American youth on the violence-beset south and west sides of Chicago. (publisher abstract modified)