What Works (and Doesn’t) in Violence Prevention

Cities United is committed to providing current research and other information on violence-related deaths that can be translated into practice. This page provides an entryway to important articles on this topic.

These articles are provided for informational purposes. Cities United does not endorse any individual or organization associated with these materials.

What Works (and What Does Not) in Youth Violence Prevention: Rethinking the Questions and Finding New Answers

Over the past decades, public concern over youth violence has led to a proliferation of prevention programs as well as a corresponding push to identify programs that “work.” A more accurate understanding of effectiveness as well as failure can be found by reframing the questions to ask what works, for whom, and under what conditions. […]

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Think Before You Act: A New Approach to Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: Policy Brief 2014-02

In a new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Jens Ludwig and Anuj Shah, both of the University of Chicago, suggest that behaviorally informed interventions to help kids think about their thinking can help youths “rewire” their automatic responses when these responses are likely to be maladaptive. The promising results from four separate randomized control trials in Chicago—including […]

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Think Before You Act: A New Approach to Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout

Improving the long-term life outcomes of disadvantaged youths remains a top policy priority in the United States. Unfortunately, long-term progress in improving outcomes like high school graduation rates and reduction of violent crime has been limited, partly because finding ways to successfully improve outcomes for disadvantaged youths (particularly males) has proven to be challenging. We […]

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The Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World: Workshop Summary

Evidence shows that violence is not inevitable, but rather can be prevented through approaches that have demonstrated measureable effects in the reduction of violence. Successful and promising violence prevention programs exist that target different types of violence, including self-directed, interpersonal, and collective violence; however, the existing evidence base does not necessarily inform practice or policy […]

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The Effects of “Pulling Levers” Focused Deterrence Strategies on Crime

A number of American police departments have been experimenting with new problem-oriented policing frameworks to prevent gang and group-involved violence generally known as the “pulling levers” focused deterrence strategies. Focused deterrence strategies honor core deterrence ideas, such as increasing risks faced by offenders, while finding new and creative ways of deploying traditional and non-traditional law […]

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The (Surprising) Efficacy of Academic and Behavioral Intervention with Disadvantaged Youth: Results from a Randomized Experiment in Chicago

This paper reports on a randomized controlled trial of a two-pronged intervention that provides disadvantaged youth with non-academic supports that try to teach youth social-cognitive skills based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and intensive individualized academic remediation. The study sample consists of 106 male 9th and 10th graders in a public high […]

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Street-Level Drug Law Enforcement: A Meta-Analytic Review

This paper presents the results of a meta-analytical review of street level drug law enforcement. We conducted a series of meta-analyses to compare and contrast the effectiveness of four types of drug law enforcement approaches, including community-wide policing, problem-oriented/partnership approaches that were geographically focused, hotspots policing and standard, unfocused law enforcement efforts. We examined the […]

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Self-Control Interventions for Children Under Age 10 for Improving Self-Control and Delinquency and Problem Behaviors

Self-control improvement programs for children are effective at improving self-control, as well as reducing delinquency and problem behaviors, according to this study. Because self-control regulates antisocial, delinquent and criminal behavior, many programs have been developed to improve self-control among children and adolescents. But do these programs work? Do they reduce delinquency and problem behaviors? And, […]

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Scared Straight and Other Juvenile Awareness Programs for Preventing Juvenile Delinquency: A Systematic Review

Based upon a systematic review of the extant literature this study concludes that programs like ‘Scared Straight’ are likely to have a harmful effect and increase delinquency relative to doing nothing at all to the same youths. Given these results, we cannot recommend this program as a crime prevention strategy. Agencies that permit such programs, however, […]

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Report of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence

The challenge of children’s exposure to violence and ensuing psychological trauma is not one that government alone can solve. The problem requires a truly national response that draws on the strengths of all Americans. Our children’s futures are at stake. Every child we are able to help recover from the impact of violence is an […]

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