Understanding Community-Based Violence Prevention in Massachusetts

Physical, emotional, and financial consequences of youth violence on neighborhoods, communities, and states are devastating, including intangible costs as longtime residents leave the community to avoid the risk of violence.

Between 2001 and 2010, Massachusetts recorded 639 homicide victims aged 14 to 24. In response, the state implemented a variety of violence reduction programs, most recently through the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) which served more than 1,300 high risk youth in the last quarter of 2012.

AIR experts and partners are conducting a study of SSYI to:

  • investigate the impact of police involvement on neighborhood norms of violence in 11 Massachusetts cities (Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester);
  • compare community-level violence data from these 11 cities to 22 other Massachusetts cities; and
  • examine the impact on violent crime by all violence prevention initiatives implemented in Boston from 2008 to 2016.

These three distinctly designed studies will combine to form a complete picture of the context, process, and outcomes of implementing a statewide community-based violence prevention initiative for youth at greatest risk for violence. The findings will provide policymakers with practical data to implement comprehensive community-based violence prevention strategies that bridge public safety and public health priorities.

This research is funded from 2013-2016 by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. AIR project partners include WestEd and George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. In a separately funded initiative, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services has contracted with AIR to study the overall development and implementation of the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI).