Developed as a special initiative in 2008, the MCW Consortium on Public and Community Health has committed approximately $1.5M per year for up to 5 years to implement the MCW Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI). The goals of the VPI are to:
decrease violence in Milwaukee neighborhoods, and possibly, other areas of Wisconsin, and
strengthen community capacity to prevent future violence.
The VPI’s efforts will be implemented through community-academic action teams of youth, parents, educators, and concerned neighbors throughout the city of Milwaukee and will focus on three major priorities:
educate, develop, catalyze and convene to build capacity for violence prevention
prevent and intervene early with youth ages 0-11 years
motivate and influence youth ages 12-17 years
These priorities emerged from extensive feedback from a 21-member community-academic Steering Committee, community members, youth, MCW faculty, staff and students through the following mechanisms:
5 focus groups with 31 representatives from 24 initiatives through the Planning Council
62 provider interviews
3 focus groups with 16 provider
18 youth interviews
6 focus groups with 64 youth participants
4 community events with 250 participants
4 workgroups with 55 participants
2 youth summits with 140 participants.
Click on the following links for more information about te MCW Consortium and the Development Phase of the Violence Prevention Initiative.
Why Youth Violence is a Problem
The CDC has declared violence an epidemic in the United States. Violence is a significant public health problem that disproportionately affects youth. Homicide is the second leading cause of death among all youth ages 10 to 24, with an average of 16 young people murdered each day, and is the leading cause of death among African-American youth in the same age category. In 2007, more than 668,000 young people ages 10 to 24 years were treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from violence, at an estimated cost that exceeds $158 billion per year. (CDC. Youth Violence Facts at a Glance, Summer 2009). In recognition of the severity of this problem, the Wisconsin State Health Plan 2010 deemed injury, including violence, “the most under-recognized major public health problem.”
Violence is Preventable
The good news is that violence is preventable. Together we can prevent and reduce the impact of violence in our communities. There is a lot we know about how to engage youth and others in our communities to create a safer environment. Just as important, there are things we can do to reduce the emotional impact of violence on individuals to improve long-term health and mental well-being. Addressing the impact of violence can improve everyone’s life. Safer communities are strong communities. When youth feel safe, they are more likely to lead a healthy life.
The Importance of a Medical College-Community Partnership
The MCW Youth Violence Prevention Initiative is a community-academic partnership strategy to prevent and address youth related violence. Community-academic partnerships demonstrate how the benefits of working together extend well beyond individual efforts. Partnerships capitalize on academic and community strengths to empower both to take a more active role in the improvement of health. Community strengths include: knowledge of community resources and needs, relationships with community leaders and members, knowledge of past successes and failures in addressing community needs, and expertise in program implementation and community organizing. MCW strengths include: expertise in research, evidence-based practice, data analysis, evaluation, neutral convener, and community-academic partnerships. Community strengths include: knowledge of community resources and needs, relationships with community leaders and members, knowledge of past successes and failures in addressing community needs, and expertise in program implementation and community organizing.
By developing strong community-academic partnerships, the VPI can capitalize on strengths of both community and academics; provide an opportunity for community and academic partners to share knowledge and work together to improve the public’s health; and bridge the gap between prevention research and community interventions.
The Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention and Reduction
A public health approach to reducing violence places emphasis on preventing violence before it occurs, making science integral to identifying effective policies and programs, and integrating the efforts of diverse scientific disciplines, organizations, and communities.
Using a public health approach, community and academic partners can identify high-risk populations and implement prevention and educational interventions to make a substantial reduction in violence.
By adopting this approach, the VPI seeks to address violence through key principles of a public health approach including:
- investing in prevention
- addressing the root causes
- adopting a learn-as-we go approach
- emphasizing coordinated action
- intervening early, and
- working with the community