Gun violence is the leading cause of death for young people in America. But youth violence interventions can help keep kids safe and reach those who are the hardest to reach.
America’s gun violence problem is having an outsized impact on the most vulnerable members of our society — our kids. Fundamental disparities in public safety mean that children and young people live in communities that are disproportionately exposed to violence. Consistent exposure to gun violence has detrimental effects on mental health, emotional development, and academic engagement. For example, our research suggests that 38% of school-aged girls in Chicago public high schools citywide exhibit signs of PTSD — double the probability of PTSD in service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Undoing decades of disinvestment won’t happen overnight, but we need to find ways to keep kids safe and reach those who are hardest to reach.
The Crime Lab partners with local schools, community violence intervention programs, and criminal justice agencies to connect young people with behavioral and mental health supports to help them navigate difficult situations, boost academic involvement, and reduce violence involvement.
Choose to Change, a program focused on gang-involved youth, found participants had 48% fewer violent crime arrests.
Our evaluation of Becoming a Man found the program helped cut violent-crime arrests in half and boost high school graduation rates by nearly 20%.
Back to Our Future (B2OF)
Back to Our Future (B2OF) is a state-funded, district-led, evidence-informed effort to re-engage disconnected students at an elevated risk for gun violence involvement.
Read the new policy brief.
Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) Technical Assistance
The Crime Lab has provided technical assistance to Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services and its service providers to aid in their efforts to more strategically direct their prevention and intervention services to those individuals most in need.
Youth Advocate Programs
The Crime Lab and Education Lab, in partnership with Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP), conducted a randomized controlled trial of YAP’s wraparound advocacy services to evaluate the program’s impact on youth academic outcomes and violence engagement outcomes.
The Dovetail Project
Researchers at the Crime Lab, the University of California Berkeley, and Cornell University evaluated The Dovetail Project, a program that offers parenting supports for young fathers on Chicago’s South and West sides.
B2OF Policy Brief: Supporting Youth Safety and Education Re-Engagement
This policy brief outlines the first year of implementation of Back to Our Future (B2OF), a state-funded, district-led, evidence-informed effort to re-engage disconnected students at an elevated risk for gun violence involvement.
Does Administrative Burden Deter Young People? Evidence from Summer Jobs Programs
This research paper examines the impact of administrative burden on the effectiveness of public social programs for young people, specifically summer jobs programs.
When Scale and Replication Work: Learning from Summer Youth Employment Experiments
This research paper addresses the challenges of scaling up and replicating successful human capital interventions due to two key sources of variability: differences in the treatment itself and changes in the target population.
Rethinking the Benefits of Youth Employment Programs: The Heterogeneous Effects of Summer Jobs
This research paper presents the results of two randomized field experiments, which both involved offering supported summer job opportunities to different groups of young people in Chicago.
The Gun Violence Prevention Forum
Crime Lab Director of Programs Kim Smith spoke at the 5th Annual Gun Violence Prevention Forum on February 27, 2024. This virtual event mobilized the collective efforts of leading executives, clinicians, researchers, and policymakers around gun violence as a public health emergency.
Faith leaders: City Hall must step up to the plate and provide more funding for violence prevention
Michael Pfleger, Otis Moss III, Seth Limmer, and Ciera Bates-Chamberlain comment on the importance of funding community violence intervention (CVI) initiatives and point to the Crime Lab’s CVI Leadership Academy as a shining example, whose inaugural cohort was recognized by Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House.
Advocate, activist and healer: Myesha Watkins is trying to make Cleveland safer
Cleveland.com’s Molly Walsh highlights CVILA graduate Myesha Watkins’ visit to the White House as a part of the graduation of the CVILA’s inaugural cohort. Watkins is the executive director of the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance, a crime prevention organization that focuses on helping communities become healthier environments to reduce violence.