JOURNAL ARTICLE

Community Engagement in Youth Violence Prevention: Crafting Methods to Context

Susan Morrel-Samuels, Martica Bacallao, Shelli Brown, Meredith Bower, Marc Zimmerman
Journal of Primary Prevention 2016, 37 (2): 189-207
26965101
The purpose of the Youth Violence Prevention Centers (YVPC) Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to reduce youth violence in defined high-risk communities through the implementation and evaluation of comprehensive, evidence based prevention strategies. Within this common framework, each YVPC varies in its structure and methods, however all engage communities in multiple ways. We explore aspects of community engagement employed by three centers that operate in very different contexts: a rural county in North Carolina; a suburban area of Denver, Colorado; and an urban setting in Flint, Michigan. While previous research has addressed theories supporting community involvement in youth violence prevention, there has been less attention to the implementation challenges of achieving and sustaining participation. In three case examples, we describe the foci and methods for community engagement in diverse YVPC sites and detail the barriers and facilitating factors that have influenced implementation. Just as intervention programs may need to be adapted in order to meet the needs of specific populations, methods of community engagement must be tailored to the context in which they occur. We discuss case examples of community engagement in areas with varying geographies, histories, and racial and ethnic compositions. Each setting presents distinct challenges and opportunities for conducting collaborative violence prevention initiatives and for adapting engagement methods to diverse communities. Although approaches may vary depending upon local contexts, there are certain principles that appear to be common across cultures and geography: trust, transparency, communication, commitment. We also discuss the importance of flexibility in community engagement efforts.

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