Violence Prevention Initiative

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The Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia applies a research-to-action-to-impact approach to address the exposure to and impact of violence in the lives of patients and their families. VPI programs are guided by trauma-informed practices, principles of social justice and equity, and community-based participatory research. As part of a pediatric health care organization, VPI operates in primary care clinics, schools, and hospitals. In primary care clinics, VPI screens for and responds to domestic violence and peer bullying. In schools, VPI partners with teachers and counselors to prevent bullying by teaching children how to problem solve challenging situations by managing feelings, reading social cues, and being positive bystanders. And in the hospital, VPI screens teenagers for and responds to risk of suicide, depression, and other behavioral issues, as well as provides violently injured children and their families with intensive case management services and connections to community resources.

VPI’s trauma-informed practices:

  • Prevent violence and aggression
  • Support at-risk populations
  • Help our patients heal.

In addition, VPI delivers high quality, cross-disciplinary trainings on trauma-informed care to teach providers about the importance of recognizing how prior stress plays a role in a person’s current health and behavior, and how to respond accordingly. The goal is for CHOP to be a national leader in providing trauma-informed pediatric care in every patient and family encounter.

VPI is housed in the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP), a Center of Emphasis within the CHOP Research Institute. VPI’s multidisciplinary team comprises researchers and clinicians who specialize in understanding the causes and impact of different types of violence on youth. The team uses its expertise to help shape policy, engage community partners, and create violence prevention methods and evidence-based interventions. It has become a national and global model for hospital-based and community-delivered violence prevention.

Research Project Highlights

Researchers involved with the Violence Prevention Initiative are engaged in the following efforts:

  • Violence Intervention Program (VIP):
    VIP provides post-discharge community- and family-focused case management to 8 to 18-year-old patients treated at CHOP for an injury due to interpersonal violence. Services address mental health and other needs (e.g., medical, education, legal, housing) to promote safety and recovery, and prevent future violent events. VIP also provides group therapy for youth to build resilience after a traumatic event (BRAVE), and organizational and peer support for frontline staff to prevent secondary traumatic stress (Stress-Less Initiative).
  • STOP IPV:
    Jointly supported by CHOP and Lutheran Settlement House, STOP IPV addresses intimate partner violence (IPV) and teen dating violence, and considers the impact of child abuse and community violence on individuals and families. STOP IPV supports screening by pediatric healthcare providers to identify families experiencing IPV and provides on-site support and safety planning to minimize adverse effects of childhood IPV exposure. Through training, education, and raising awareness, STOP IPV strengthens CHOP’s trauma-informed response to IPV.
  • Friend to Friend (F2F):
    F2F addresses relational aggression (manipulating social relationships through gossip and social exclusion) among third grade through fifth grade minority girls in urban schools. The 10-week school-based program includes a small-group intervention with accompanying classroom lessons wherein relationally aggressive girls learn strategies for problem-solving, anger management, and prosocial leadership. F2F targets unstructured school settings (e.g., playground, lunchroom) where aggression most frequently occurs.
  • Preventing Aggression in Schools Everyday (PRAISE):
    PRAISE is a universal adaptation of the CHOP-developed Friend to Friend program which specifically targets relationally aggressive girls. For both boys and girls in third grade through fifth grade, PRAISE is a 20 session classroom-based program that teaches problem-solving strategies, empathy, perspective-taking, and strategies for being a positive bystander. PRAISE is designed to prevent and reduce multiple forms of aggression and bullying (e.g., physical, relational/social, cyber) and support a productive and positive classroom teaching environment.