“Although youth violence has decreased nationwide over the past decade, gun and gang violence are still all too prevalent. The consequences of this type of violence are visible, immediate, and horrific. Likewise, the less-visible violence that children are exposed to or experience, including family violence, maltreatment, neglect, dating violence, and chronic bullying, is detrimental to them, their families, and their neighborhoods. Most forms of interpersonal and community violence are intimately connected. They are linked with factors related to health and well-being, such as an individual’s developmental stage; quality of peer and protective relationships; neighborhood transiency; level of community trauma, including historical trauma and structural racism; social norms; economic and personal growth opportunities; alcohol and substance use disorder; and contamination from lead and other toxins.
Those seeking to interrupt cycles of violence and attachment to gangs must take these factors into account, particularly the impact of children’s exposure to violence and the availability of resources and opportunities that support healthy, thriving children, youth, families, and neighborhoods. The well-being of children and youth is deeply rooted in the vitality and safety of the homes and communities in which they reside. Through several youth violence initiatives—the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, the Defending Childhood Initiative, the Community-Based Violence Prevention Program, and the Safe and Thriving Initiative—OJJDP has nurtured cross-sector, multilevel, community-based collaborations that engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders in many places across the country. OJJDP’s youth violence prevention initiatives provide a platform for elevating the issue of youth violence and children’s exposure to violence to a national level, and have created learning opportunities for localities engaged in this work. Yet, continued strategic development and enhancement of youth violence, gang prevention, and community development initiatives are needed in jurisdictions nationwide to grow and sustain progress.”
Excerpted from OJJDP FY 2017 Safe and Thriving Communities: Planning and Collaboration request for proposals.