November 2013

Multidisciplinary Collaborations Highlighted at Violence Intervention Conference

Violence

Children’s Hospital recently lent its support to a major violence prevention conference that brought together violence prevention researchers, government officials, and community advocates. Along with Drexel University and the Oakland, Calif.-based urban youth advocacy organization Youth Alive!, the Hospital sponsored the fourth annual National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs (NNHVIP) conference.

Conceived during a 2009 violence intervention conference held by Youth Alive!, the mission of the NNHVIP is to “strengthen existing hospital-based violence intervention programs and help develop similar programs in communities across the country,” according to the NNHVIP site. Since its inception, the NNVIP has grown to comprise 22 programs in 14 states and the District of Columbia, and NNHVIP members provide technical assistance to a number of “emerging” programs around the country and in Canada. These include the Minneapolis Youth Violence Intervention Program, the Manitoba Institute of Child Health, and Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Kings Against Violence Initiative.

The NNHVIP conference, which was held at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, brought together experts from around the country for two days of presentations on youth violence prevention, collaboration with law enforcement, and methods of working with mental health professionals to provide care.

Along with his fellow co-director of the NNHVIP headquarters Ted Corbin, MD, MPP, Children’s Hospital’s Joel Fein, MD, MPH, delivered the conference’s welcoming remarks. The director of outreach for CHOP’s Center for Pediatric Trauma Stress, Dr. Fein is also the co-director of CHOP’s Violence Prevention Initiative, a member of the boards of directors of both The Institute for Safe Families and the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research, and an attending physician in CHOP’s Emergency Department.

In addition to Drs. Corbin and Fein, speakers at the NNHVIP conference included Acting Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice Tony West, and Anne Marie Ambrose, commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services. Associate Attorney General West spoke about trauma-informed care and youth violence prevention, while Commissioner Ambrose discussed youth violence prevention collaborations.

Toni Rivera-Joachin, the project manager of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee’s Project Ujima, also gave a talk at the NNHVIP conference. According to the project’s website, Project Ujima is a “multidisciplinary collaboration addressing youth and adult violence through individual, family and community intervention and prevention strategies,” helping youth and adult victims of violence and violent crime recover.

The Project’s mission is to “stop the cycle of violent crimes by reducing the number of repeat victims of violence through individual, family and community interventions and prevention strategies.” In her talk, Rivera-Joachin discussed the importance of community partnerships to Project Ujima’s work.

Indeed, a recent speech by Mayors Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans and Michael Nutter of Philadelphia at the National Press Club highlighted the growing problem of violence and violent crime in America, particularly among and by young African American men. Calling violence and murder an “urgent, national issue,” New Orleans Mayor Landrieu said “the challenge of murder is both wide and deep, and must be addressed broadly as an issue of public health, with close connection to economics, education, poverty, law enforcement, race, and yes, American culture.” The mayors called for increased collaborations between government agencies and advocacy organizations to work to prevent violence.

“From 1980 to 2012, 626,000 people, American citizens, a disproportionate number young African American men, were murdered on the streets of America. That’s more Americans that were lost during World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, the war in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan combined,” Mayor Landrieu said.

For his part, Mayor Nutter noted that “we must change…this is a national problem with national implications that deserves a national response and action, everyone doing their part.” According to the Philadelphia Police Department, in 2012, there were 331 homicides in Philadelphia, and as of October 1, 2013, there were 187 homicides. Of the 2012 victims, 67.8 percent were black.

“If we do not have the urgency to stand up now and say enough, then when?” Mayor Nutter asked.

To learn more about ways the NNHVIP works to prevent violence, see the organization’s website.

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