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Previous Research Projects

Research / Training / Outreach

The Center’s past research projects have been guided by our vision of working to reduce youth violence by creating and supporting positive environments for youth and families. The Center collaborated 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 furthered our knowledge and research abilities. 

For a list of current research projects, click here.

Research Projects

Attention Control and Stress Reduction
Principal Investigator: Tamar Mendelson (
Start Date: January 2008  /  End Date: June 2008
This project aims to assess the effects of a 12 week stress reduction class on emotional, cognitive and academic outcomes among 4th and 5th grade Baltimore City Public School students. Between 20-25 students in 4th and 5th grades have been recruited from four Baltimore City Public Schools. All students completed a baseline assessment consisting of computer-administered tasks of cognitive function and self report data on social and emotional functioning. Teachers also completed surveys that assess student social, behavioral and academic functioning. Two public schools were randomized to receive the stress reduction class this spring and the remaining two schools will receive the class in the fall of 2008.

Core Competencies to Prevent Problem Behaviors and Promote Positive Youth Development
Principal Investigator: D C Browne (
Start Date: January 2007  /  End Date: December 2008
Dr. Bradshaw co-authored with Dr. Nancy Guerra of the University of Southern California ACE a special issue of New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development entitled, Youth at risk: Core competencies to prevent problem behaviors and promote positive youth development. The volume covers issues related to youth violence, early school leaving and school failure, risky sexual behavior, and substance use.  This project disseminates findings regarding core competencies to prevention problem behaviors and promote positive youth development. A set of 5 core competencies were identified and applied to the prevention of each of the four problematic outcomes.

Engaging Parents in Violence Prevention
Principal Investigator: Tina Cheng (
Start Date: September 2005  /  End Date: September 2008
Many problems of fighting, weapon-carrying, and delinquency have been associated with maladaptive parenting styles, family dysfunction, and poor monitoring and communication. The overall goal of this project is to increase our understanding about how to successfully engage inner city parents in youth violence prevention activities. Specific aims include: 1) To assess parent perceptions of their needs in parenting early adolescents, their strategies for keeping their youth safe from violence and the best ways to engage parents in parenting programs; and 2) To assess the feasibility and effectiveness of a home visitation and telephone pilot intervention with parents of 7th graders in an urban middle school to increase parental monitoring and school engagement. Aim one involves a series of qualitative interviews with parents of 6th graders recruited from public middle schools in East Baltimore to guide the development of a pilot intervention in the subsequent two years. The second aim involves the implementation and evaluation of a pilot intervention of a home visit and telephone intervention with parents of 7th graders.

Evaluation of a Multi-Faceted Community Initiative to Prevent Youth Homocides
Principal Investigator: Daniel Webster (
Start Date: March 2005  /  End Date: March 2007
Baltimore has one of the nation’s highest rates of youth-involved homicide and gun violence. This project evaluated the effects of a multi-faceted, community initiative to reduce youth homicides and shootings. The intervention was implemented in the spring of 2007 and was modeled after Chicago’s Ceasefire program. Using the police data described in the Surveillance section, we contrasted changes in measures of youth violence in intervention communities with those observed in similar comparison communities. We also conducted surveys of high-risk youth in intervention and comparison communities soon after the program was launched and approximately 12 months later to assess changes in social norms relevant to gun violence. In addition to collecting process evaluation data, we conducted in-depth interviews with outreach workers to record and analyze key dynamics in outreach worker’s attempts to mediate potentially lethal conflicts.
5th grade Baltimore City Public School students. 

I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) School-Based Violence Prevention Program
Principal Investigator: Harolyn Belcher (
Start Date: January 2006  /  End Date: June 2007
Children with moderately aggressive disruptive behaviors may cause significant impairment of classroom learning and function. Thus, teachers are in an ideal situation to recognize and address these early behaviors.  Baseline data will be collected for the month of February 2006. Measures include: (1) number of office referrals for discipline/behavior problems, (2) number of suspensions, and (3) number of expulsions. Measures will be collected for all Kindergarten through third grade classes. Teachers will continue to attend weekly workshops and have three “I Can Problem Solve” activity sessions during the Social Living course each week. Teachers will turn in completed materials from the activities to the two Family Center clinicians each week. Data was collected monthly for each class from March through June 2006. This process was repeated again beginning in October 2006. Project additions for the current school year, included the inclusion of control classrooms ( six ICPS classrooms and five control classes) and the assessment of children’s classroom behavior at baseline by a masked evaluator. Children’s classroom behaviors will be measured again in April 2007. A total of 197 children are in the eleven classrooms participating in the evaluation.

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Training Projects

Johns Hopkins University Interdisciplinary Pre-doctoral Training Program
Principal Investigator: Karl Alexander (
Start Date: June 2008  /  End Date: June 2009 
This training program is funded by the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) with the goal of providing advanced training in applied research in school settings. Pre-doctoral trainees receive training in the design, implementation, and evaluation of educational programs by taking courses in education, sociology, and mental health.  There is currently one student from the Department of Mental Health participating in the program. Two additional trainees are currently being recruited for the fall of 2009. Trainees will participate in Center meetings and sponsored events to learn more about school-based violence prevention.

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Outreach Projects

Ex-Offenders Summit
Principal Investigator: Ellsworth Johnson-Bey (
Start Date: March 2008  /  End Date: December 2008
Collaborated with the Fraternal Order of X-Offender to conduct a meeting of ex-offenders, State and local policy makers and service providers, community advocates, and family members to identify opportunities for improving outcomes of ex-offenders and reducing the negative impact of ex-offenders on communities and youth. This project is part of the Outreach and Education efforts.  To discuss options for greater community involvement in efforts to reduce violence through the better support of ex-offenders returning to Baltimore City.

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