This information is reprinted with permission from The National League of Cities.
Cities United, an initiative of The National League of Cities aimed at eliminating violence-related deaths among African-American males, recently released, “Fourteen Steps We Can Take Now to Stop Violence.” The partnership is aimed at local leaders and mayors–and is definitely relevant to a wider array of individuals and organizations trying to prevent violence.
Take a look and let us know what you think about the Cities United recommendations on our Facebook page:
1. Build political will to change
Sustainable solutions must be conceived and led by local government in partnership with the community. This means committed leadership at the top – governor, mayor, police chief, superintendent of public instruction, local chief of health and human services, elected officials in high-crime neighborhoods and community leaders. This effort must be maintained and transcend local election cycles. This also means training leaders on effective strategies to achieve community-wide results.
2. Create a local leadership team
Organize a cross-sector Anti-violence and Community Stabilization group in every city to facilitate efforts within city government and between city government and the community.
3. Connect city leaders in a national network
Help city leaders find out what works in other cities and support them as they borrow and modify successful strategies.
4. Engage the leaders of the ‘violence factories’ in the conversation
Every city knows who they [the leaders of ‘violence factories] are. Bring them to the table and get them to enter a dialogue to save lives. Incentivize their participation. Get comfortable with their presence—they are critical to lasting change in communities. Meet them where they are.
5. Create a city-wide work group or commission
Tap committed individuals to join an effort to improve community, youth and family outcomes.
6. Be systematic about targeting resources where they are most needed
Create grids across the city to identify the targeted geography and understand problem neighborhoods. Not every neighborhood is equally impacted. Cities must isolate pockets of violence and concentrate efforts and resources to maximize effectiveness.
7. Construct and implement a multi-year plan of action
Document, monitor, and measure outcomes that build in flexibility to modify the plan when outcomes and circumstances warrant.
8. Develop an integrated response strategy:
- Across government agencies
- Across public and private sectors
- Across age groups
- Across civic and community organizations
- Across faith institutions
9. Teach every child to read
Poor reading skills do not automatically lead to violent behavior, but data from various studies indicate that below grade-level reading ability is significantly related to the development of aggressive anti-social behavior.
- Four of five incarcerated juvenile offenders read two or more years below grade level. A majority are functionally illiterate.
- Seventy percent of the prison population reads below grade level.
10. Workforce readiness
Nothing stops a bullet like a job! Ensure that all young men are prepared for post- high school education or vocational training that leads to the well paying jobs in your city. Providing youth with summer jobs sets them up for success by giving them a great learning opportunity.
11. Provide community-wide mental health services
Remove the stigma associated with asking for help and ensure that everyone who suffers from mental-health issues receives the care they need. Make the services easily accessible.
12. Engage and support parents and families
Help mothers, fathers, and concerned family members to lead their families and raise healthy, well-functioning children.
13. Stop the cycle of violence
Address retaliation through programs such as Cure Violence’s “Violence Interrupters” or Omega Boys Club’s “Street Soliders.”
14. Keep the lights on
Hold public events frequently and at all hours of the 24-hour day in the city’s most violence-prone places.