JOURNAL ARTICLE

Essential elements for community engagement in evidence-based youth violence prevention

Tai-An Miao, Karen Umemoto, Deanna Gonda, Earl S Hishinuma
American Journal of Community Psychology 2011, 48 (1-2): 120-32
21203825
In the field of youth violence prevention, there has been increasing emphasis on "evidence based" programs and principles shown through scientific research as reaching their intended outcomes. Community mobilization and engagement play a critical role in many evidence-based programs and strategies, as it takes a concerted effort among a wide range of people within a community to alter behavior and maintain behavioral change. How do concerned individuals and groups within a community engage others within and outside of that community to effectively plan, develop and implement appropriate EB programs as well as evaluate the outcomes and impacts of locally developed programs yet to be proven? The authors discuss five elements essential for community engagement in evidence-based youth violence prevention based on their work in a university-community partnership through the Asian/Pacific Islander Youth Violence Prevention Center (API Center), a National Academic Center for Excellence on Youth Violence Prevention Center supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They include: (a) aligning EBPs with a community's shared vision and values; (b) establishing an inclusive environment for the planning, implementation and evaluation of EBPs; (c) nurturing collaboration for increased effectiveness and efficacy of EBPs; (d) building adequate leadership and community capacity to develop and sustain EBPs; and (e) building a learning community for evaluation and self-reflection. The authors propose placing greater emphasis on "evaluative thinking" and organizational capacity for evaluation as we pursue evidence-based practices for youth violence prevention. This is especially important for ethnic groups for which an evidence base is not well established.

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