A new approach to restore hope following public violence

More than 70 percent of Americans believe public violence is an inevitable part of life and nearly as many worry that a member of their family will be injured in such an incident. Public violence is a random violent act that traumatizes a community. While shootings often produce the biggest headlines, public violence also includes hate crimes, threats and incidents using vehicles and knives.

When a natural or technological disaster occurs, faith based and other voluntary groups follow established protocols and collaborate with local public safety officials to build community resilience. But when public violence occurs, there are no protocols to guide the community and no organized response. What we most often see today is misinformation, fragmentation of services, and recurring cycles of violence that are left unaddressed.

The U.S. spends more than $460 billion annually to contain violence and millions to try to prevent it, but anti-violence programs rarely reach those already traumatized by violence in their communities. Yet, random incidents of public violence occur in communities across the United States every day. If incidents are not addressed with timely and comprehensive local support to counter the effects of the trauma and restore confidence, entire communities may suffer immediate and long-term consequences. Substance abuse, depression and violent crime have all been linked to unaddressed trauma, particularly in children.

The Center for Public Violence Recovery (CPVR) proposes the creation of a new Public Violence Resilience Framework to help residents transform public violence-induced fear into hope for their lives. Local Public Violence Resilience Coalitions of faith-based and human services nonprofits, public health agencies, emergency management and local government agencies are expected to implement the framework with a goal of restoring healthy and resilient communities. When a community is prepared to care for itself following public violence and supported in its efforts, the psychosocial health of each individual can be positively impacted as well as overall community wellbeing.

CPVR will collaborate with partners to sponsor national conferences and regional forums to share best practices, recent research, and discuss how new roles and initiatives will improve community-based response to public violence. The Center will also host a Website to facilitate the formation of online communities to discuss issues, share best practices and related research, and organize responses.

Change is never easy. Faith leaders, communicators, human services nonprofits, trauma and public health professionals, public safety, emergency managers and educators will be needed to collaborate in pilot communities where components of the framework are evaluated and continuously revised. As pilots are successful in building community public violence resilience, new protocols and response roles will be established.

CPVR is seeking grants to fully develop the framework, define its components, expand this Website, identify and coordinate implementation in pilot communities and define criteria and goals that will used to evaluate its success.

To join our efforts or to get more information, contact the Center for Public Violence Recovery at (443) 399-3075 or send an email to: [email protected]