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Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence
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Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence

Current Research Projects

Surveillance / Research / Training / Outreach

The Center’s current research is guided by our vision of working to reduce youth violence by creating and supporting positive environments for youth and families. The Center collaborates with a coalition of researchers, faculty, students and staff from Baltimore-based academic centers and partners, state and local officials, collaborators from Baltimore and Maryland-based agencies and organizations, as well as parents, local residents, and youth who further our knowledge and research abilities. 

For a list of previous research projects, click here.

Surveillance Projects

Monitoring School Climate in Baltimore City Public Schools
Principal Investigator: Philip Leaf (
Start Date: January 2005

Developed a survey to monitor parents, students, and teachers' perceptions of school climate and safety in BCPSS. The survey is administered annually by the district to monitor climate and evaluate school-based programs and initiatives.  Further information on the Climate Survey Results, 2007-08 School Year School Climate Data Summary Report can be found by clicking here.

Neighborhood Inventory for Environmental Typology Project
Principal Investigator: Debra Furr-Holden (
Start Date: May 2008
The project seeks to provide contextual insight on violence and alcohol and other drug (AOD) exposure among urban youth within selected communities by identifying environmental indicators linked with increased violence and AOD exposures.  This project surveys random samples of Baltimore City residential blocks.

Surveillance of Youth-Involved Violence in Baltimore City
Principal Investigator: Daniel Webster (
Start Date: October 2005
The purposes of our surveillance activities are to: 1) track trends in youth violence across city neighborhoods specific to type of violence (e.g., gun, gang, robberies); identify risk factors for youth involvement in serious acts of violence (homicide, near-homicide); and 3) monitor school climate relevant to youth violence and school suspensions. We will create a neighborhood-level quarterly panel dataset with violent crime and weapons offenses outcomes stratified by police post, age-group of victim/offender (14-17, 18-20, 21-24, 25-34, 35+), and weapon type (firearm, non-firearm). A similar panel dataset will be assembled for clusters of police posts in neighborhoods with the most shootings that are either the target of the community gun violence prevention initiative or serve as comparisons. We are also assembling detailed information on juveniles (<18) involved in homicides or near-homicides including prior involvement in the juvenile and adult justice system, school suspensions, and family problems identified by the Dept. of Social Services.

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Research Projects

Community-based Participatory Research Approaches to Youth Violence Prevention
Principal Investigator: Catherine Bradshaw (
Start Date: January 2008

Drs. Bradshaw, Tandon, and Leaf are guest editors for a special issue of Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, focused on community-based participatory research approaches to youth violence prevention. Several ACEs are expected to contribute. The project is sponsored by CDC.

Enhancing Schools' Capacity for Bullying and Harassment Prevention
Principal Investigator: Catherine Bradshaw (
Start Date: September 2005 
Victimization during childhood, including bullying and harassment, has been associated with a host of negative mental health problems and an increased risk for future aggressive behavior.  This project aims to reduce bullying in Maryland elementary, middle, and high schools by partnering with Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County, and Frederick County public school systems. A web-based survey on bullying and school climate was developed and administered five times to over 25,000 students, 2,500 staff, and 1000 parents from approximately 117 public schools. A web-based data reporting system was created to summarize the school-level findings and make the results available for school administrators and school personnel to use in the school improvement planning process. This data is also being used to identify schools in greatest need of evidence-based bullying prevention programs and guide training and technical assistance for the participating districts and schools. The Maryland State Department of Education is interested in possibly expanding this model of bullying prevention to other local school systems throughout Maryland. Dr. Bradshaw consulted with a state team regarding the development of a similar system that would be developed state-wide as the result of state legislation on bullying and harassment prevention.She also wrote a section of the state’s model policy for bullying prevention based on this work. She worked in collaboration with Frederick County Public Schools to conduct a pilot of PBIS and the Olweus bullying prevention program in a middle school in summer 2008 for implementation in the 2008/2009 school year.

Evaluation of Baltimore's "Safe Streets" Program
Principal Investigator: Daniel Webster (
Start Date: September 2005 
Baltimore has historically experienced extremely high rates of gun violence involving youth. Safe Streets is based on the Ceasefire program in Chicago that has shown to reduce gun violence in most of the neighborhoods in which it has been implemented.  The project is an evaluation of Baltimore's Safe Streets program - a public health initiative to reduce serious youth violence in communities. We use a neighborhood-level, longitudinal study to contrast trends in youth violence in intervention communities versus non-intervention communities before and after the program is introduced. We also collect data on program implementation and are assessing the effects on attitudes of youth relevant to using guns to resolve disputes.

Evaluation of "Operation Safe Kids"
Principal Investigator: Daniel Webster (
Start Date: September 2007 
Most youth involved in homicides and nonfatal shootings have had prior involvement with juvenile justice. The program offers a local prevention-focused alternative to state supervision of high-risk juvenile offenders. The study evaluates the effects of Operation Safe Kids - a public-health-led effort to reduce risks for involvement in violence through enhanced supervision, mentoring, a service delivery to youth and their families. A quasi-experimental design is used in concunction with propensity score matching techniques to isolate program effects on re-offending.

Improving Home Visiting Effectiveness in Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting School Readiness
Principal Investigator: Anne Duggan (
Start Date: March 2007 
Early identification of children with developmental delays and improving parenting behavior are intended to provide children with a strong early developmental and behavioral trajectory that is less likely to lead to later externalizing behavior.  In January, 2007 Drs. Duggan and Tandon launched a 30-month program to strengthen the role of pediatric primary care in promoting early child development. The program, funded by United Way of Central Maryland, implements research-based models for (a) developmental surveillance and (b) parent education in two primary care clinics in East Baltimore. The program will improve early identification and intervention in children with developmental delays, and promote child development by improving the quality of parent-child interaction. Toward the end of the project period, Drs. Duggan and Tandon will provide technical assistance to other practices in Baltimore and Central Maryland to facilitate faithful adoption and appropriate adaptation of this primary care-based model. Early identification of children with developmental delays and improving parenting behavior are intended to provide children with a strong early developmental and behavioral trajectory that is less likely to lead to later externalizing behavior. Since the intervention component began, over 1700 families have participated. The intervention will be expanded in June 2008 with the introduction of videotaping and feedback on parent-child interaction to promote positive parenting. Staff training in this intervention is underway; a portion of the clinic facilities are being earmarked specifically for this purpose. We expect to measure impact on parenting behavior by the end of 2008.

Measuring the Impact of Municipal Alcohol Outlet Intervention on Violence Exposure in Youth
Principal Investigator: Debra Furr-Holden (
Start Date: May 2008 
Several studies have indicated that there is a significant positive relationship between alcohol outlet density and violent crime, and concluded that intervention in the most at-risk neighborhoods is appropriate. This study will provide the foundation of data regarding features in and around alcohol outlets that, if intervened upon, could significantly reduce youth exposure to neighborhood-level violence.  The proposed project seeks to provide insight on violence, alcohol and other drug (VAOD) activity within Baltimore City by taking pre- and post-municipal alcohol-related intervention measurements of VAOD activity. This proposal seeks to identify promising environmental violence and AOD prevention strategies by providing (a) a comprehensive epidemiologic assessment of municipal alcohol-related intervention effects on communities in Baltimore City, and (b) a systematic and objective contextual analysis of the key alcohol-related environmental precipitators theorized to promote and sustain elevated levels of VAOD exposure. Using a classic epidemiological approach, blocks containing alcohol outlets and all adjacent blocks are rated using a 36-item objective assessment tool: the Liquor-Neighborhood Inventory for Environmental Typology (L-NIfEty). Assessments are completed (1) pre- and post- municipal interventions (including suspensions and closures) and (2) on a random sample of alcohol outlets in Baltimore City.

Mindfulness Intervention
Principal Investigator: Tamar Mendelson (
Start Date: 2007
This research represents a partnership between the Holistic Life Foundation and researchers at the Prevention Research Center at Penn State University, the Center for Adolescent Health, and the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence. This study is a randomized controlled trial that assessed the outcomes of a school-based mindfulness intervention. Mindfulness-based approaches may help chronically stressed and disadvantaged youth by enhancing their ability to regulate thoughts and emotions.

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Training Projects

Hands Off: Strategies to Combat Youth Violence
Principal Investigator: Sarah Hassan (
Start Date: November 2007 
Hands Off is a school-based violence prevention education program that aims to improve student behavior and minimize aggression. Hands Off is intended to help students in 6th through 12th grade learn the skills they need to get along peacefully with others. In both content and teaching methods, the program teaches students positive attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. It builds skills sequentially and at each grade level provides developmentally appropriate curricula designed to address the most significant risk and protective factors. The purpose of this curriculum is to educate students, teachers and parents about youth violence, its consequences and preventive interventions, to facilitate positive youth development, to teach positive conflict resolution strategies, and to save the lives of young people so that they can become successful and productive citizens.  The official "Hands Off" website can be viewed here

Training in Community-based Participatory Research
Principal Investigator: Lee Bone (
Start Date: September 2005
The Center supports seminars and courses related to the conduct of Community-Based Particpatory Research. Center faculty offered two courses for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Summer Institute: Community-Based Participatory Research: Applications to Violence Prevention and Mental Health (Tandon, Bone, & Leaf).

Violence Prevention Writing Group
Principal Investigator: Tina Cheng (
Start Date: September 2005
Dr. Tina Cheng continues to lead and staff the Violence Prevention Writing Group in 2005 for students, fellows, junior and senior faculty to encourage peer support and collaboration in publishing and disseminating research findings.  The group currently has participants from JHU, NICHD, and the Baltimore City Health Department including 4 clinical fellows, 2 doctorate students, 4 junior faculty (pediatrics, psychology, and public health), 3 mid/senior faculty, and a statistician. Six papers presented in the writing group have been published or accepted for publication.

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Outreach Projects

Citywide Youth Development Plan
Principal Investigator: Sabrina Sutton (
Start Date: August 2006
The Center staff continues to support Baltimore's efforts to integrate governmental activities and non-governmental activities related to the prevention of youth violence. The project fits into the outreach section of the plan and in particular fits into community mobilization.

Community-based Participatory Research Journal PCHP
Principal Investigator: Lee Bone (
Start Date: January 2007
This journal issue fits under the outreach and education goal of the Center, as there is a need for better dissemination of violence prevention activities that were generated and/or evaluated using CBPR.

Supporting State-wide Implementation of PBIS
Principal Investigator: Philip Leaf (
Start Date: January 2001
This project intends to promote high quality implementation and dissemination of PBIS and related evidence-based prevention programs in Maryland public schools. The project is being conducted in conjunction with Dr. Bradshaw’s K01 award from CDC regarding evidence-based practices for school-based youth violence prevention programs, as well as the two large group randomized trials of PBIS being conducted by Drs. Leaf and Bradshaw.  Drs. Bradshaw and Leaf attend weekly meetings of the PBIS Maryland Management Team and monthly meetings of the PBIS Maryland State Leadership Team. The project includes partners from the Maryland State Department of Education, Sheppard Pratt Health System, Johns Hopkins University, and all 24 Maryland local school systems. The group shapes policy, evaluates PBIS, and plans for expansion and sustainability of programs and practices.

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