Role of Public Health in Gang-Membership Prevention

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National Institute of Justice: Research, Development, Evaluation

Download Changing CourseNIJ & CDC Join Forces:
What is the Role of Public Health
In Gang-Membership Prevention?

 In 2010, 4,828 young people ages 10–24 were murdered: an average of 13 youth each day, resulting from both gang- and non-gang-related violence. But deaths are only part of the picture. Also in 2010, more than 738,000 assault-related injuries in 10- to 24-year-olds were treated in emergency departments.

The National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership. Written by some of the nation’s top criminal justice and public health researchers, the book — and a separately published executive summary — helps policymakers and practitioners understand what the research says about keeping kids out of gangs.

One chapter in particular might interest you and your constituencies. In "What Is the Role of Public Health in Gang-Membership Prevention?" Dr. Tamara Haegerich and co-authors Dr. James Mercy and Ms. Billie Weiss explore how gang membership has traditionally been viewed from a public safety — rather than a public health — perspective. Looking at the issue solely through the public-safety lens, they say, fails to leverage the extensive expertise of our nation’s public health professionals who understand the impact on the health of an individual gang member and on the health of a community.

  • Learn how the public-health approach — monitoring trends, researching risk and protective factors, evaluating interventions, and supporting the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based strategies — complement law enforcement efforts to reduce gang-joining.
  • Explore the authors’ call for fundamental operational changes in agencies and systems.

Changing Course is available in electronic, print and eBook versions.

Share this valuable resource with your colleagues. Together, we can use research-based prevention principles to change the course of the future for our kids.

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