Prof. Daniel Webster

Daniel W. Webster, ScD, MPH is Professor and Deputy Director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

If you want to reduce gun violence, you have to reach out to those most likely to be involved and gain their trust.

Dr. Webster has published numerous articles on youth gun acquisition and carrying, the prevention of gun violence, intimate partner violence, and the prevention of youth violence. He has studied the effects of a variety of violence prevention interventions including state firearm policies, community programs to change social norms concerning violence, public education and advocacy campaigns, and school-based curricula. Dr. Webster teaches “Understanding and Preventing Violence” and also directs the Injury Control Certificate Program at Johns Hopkins.

Moreover, violence interrupters are asked to go into the most dangerous neighborhoods, in the most dangerous cities in the U.S., at the most dangerous times, to get people to stop shooting each other. And they’re going in unarmed. Yet, they go in, and they do it. And it works. It’s really changed my view about what’s possible.

Dr. Webster led the evaluation of Baltimore’s Cure Violence replication, Safe Streets.

“Baltimore first tried the model in McElderry Park in 2007. I felt that it would take a long time for a program of this kind to take hold. I thought, ‘Yeah it will work, but it will take a while.’ They really had the right kind of people leading the program, and within a matter of weeks, they were mediating disputes between a number of groups that had been feuding. I sat in on a meeting discussing what went down in those mediations. I just shook my head in disbelief at what they could do, that the program staff were able to sit down and get people to work out their differences. Following that set of mediations that community did not have a homicide for nearly two years.

“Some people are uncomfortable paying ex-gang members to hang out with current gang members. But it’s not that unlike undercover police work. If you want to reduce gun violence, you have to reach out to those most likely to be involved and gain their trust. Undercover police do this in order to lock people up. Outreach workers and violence interrupters hang out with gangs to stop violence. Moreover, violence interrupters are asked to go into the most dangerous neighborhoods, in the most dangerous cities in the U.S., at the most dangerous times, to get people to stop shooting each other. And they’re going in unarmed. Yet, they go in, and they do it. And it works. It’s really changed my view about what’s possible.”