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Program Details


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Practice Type: Promising
Program Name: Aim4Peace: Violence Prevention Project
Organization: Kansas City Health Department
Web site:
Overview: Aim4Peace: Violence Prevention Project
Year Submitted: 2011
Responsiveness and Innovation: Homicide is the leading cause of death for persons aged 16-40 in the Aim4Peace zone, out-pacing morbidity levels caused by motor vehicle accidents, heart disease and cancer. Homicides account for more than 75% of KCMO’s violent crime in an area labeled the “Urban Core” which accounts for only 9% of the city’s land mass (30 out of 320 square miles). Although most residents attempt to live their lives in a law-abiding manner, persons overwhelmed by life, internalizing all of their social and economic woes, have created a different norm. Lifestyles become contributing factors to community tensions, stress, and constant concerns regarding one’s existence. Violent incidents often have their origins in unresolved disputes between street organizations/gangs, as arguments are the primary cause of homicides (31% in 2005 and 29% in 2009). In the absence of positive coping mechanisms, the norm of violence turns primal. Youth living in this community where violence is an accepted norm or frequently observe violence, are at a higher risk to engage in violence. Youth in this high-poverty, violent neighborhood drop out of school at a rate of 42.5%, the second highest rate for the State of Missouri. These risk factors have contributed to KCMO being ranked in the top 20 U.S. most dangerous cities by the CQ Press for more than two decades, ranking homicide as a public health issue plaguing the Aim4Peace zone. It is not unreasonable to think that these problems can be resolved. Violence is a learned behavior resulting from preventable and controllable factors: family instability, poverty, domestic abuse, educational failure, substance abuse, mental or physical illness, as well as low engagement in supportive, productive and positive relationships and activities. Aim4Peace is guided by the premise that shooting is a behavior that can be changed through a systematic, strategic and evidence-based program that includes credible messengers and making alternatives accessible for those who are at highest risk for being involved in gun violence and drug-related crime.
Agency and Community Roles: The Kansas City, Missouri Health Department (KCMO HD) manages every aspect of this program including the grant writing, fiscal management and program reporting, but also carries out the direct service to the client. During the implementation of this project, internal and external collaborations existed within the city organization. Staff provided a leadership role in the initial development, implementation and evaluation of the program. Within Aim4Peace there are five service areas the KCMO HD’s Aim4Peace project supports: Outreach-Aim4Peace works directly with very high-risk youth to connect them with services and opportunities like education and employment. Outreach workers are recruited from the neighborhoods where they work and help provide safety and assistance for individuals to always resolve conflicts through nonviolent means. Community Mobilization– Aim4Peace rapidly responds to each shooting to inform all involved that shootings are not acceptable. Assessing the community’s available resources, developing a collaboration with residents, schools, businesses, and social service agencies. Public Education- Aim4Peace utilizes multiple forms of mass media communication, including posters, fliers and bumper stickers, to raise awareness of Aim4Peace, change social norms, and promote nonviolence. Clergy Partnership- Aim4Peace partners with Faith leaders to use their relationships in the community to stop violence, distribute public education materials, urge people to respond to shootings, and help to spread the message: No Shooting. Criminal Justice Collaboration- Aim4Peace encourages police, probation officers, and prosecutors to focus their efforts specifically on violence and to share the message that shootings are serious matters that will not be tolerated.
Costs and Expenditures: The Aim4Peace: Violence Prevention Project (Aim4Peace) is a data-based, public health method to reduce retaliatory and gang-related violence. The Aim4Peace mission is to increase the capacity of the community to handle its own disputes and empower citizens through community mobilization to peacefully resolve their conflicts. Aim4Peace targets persons aged 16 – 40 who are at a high-risk perpetrating retaliatory, gang-related violence and their families in the East Patrol Division (EPD) area, which is the home to 90,541 citizens. There are roughly 25 known active gangs in the Aim4Peace zone who make up roughly one percent of the target zone population. Gang members have been identified as young as 12 years old and as old as 49 years old. Approximately 95% of the gang members in the area are male. From 2008-2009, Aim4Peace workers enrolled 149 participants drawing from the 25 known active gangs in the Aim4Peace zone, of these 77% met the “high-risk” criteria of being the perpetrator or victim of retaliatory, gang-related violence. Homicide is the leading cause of death for persons aged 16-40 in the Aim4Peace target zone, out-pacing morbidity levels caused by motor vehicle accidents, heart disease and cancer. Youth living in this community where violence is an accepted norm or frequently observe violence, are at a higher risk to engage in violence. Further, youth in this high-poverty, high-violence neighborhood drop out of school at a rate of 42.5%, the second highest rate for the State of Missouri. These risk factors have greatly contributed to Kansas City being ranked in the top 20 U.S. most dangerous cities by the CQ Press for more than two decades, ranking homicide as a pressing public health issue plaguing the Aim4Peace zone. Aim4Peace is designed to attack the underlying factors contributing to violent crime by working with those at highest-risk of committing the offenses in the target zone and their families. The goal of the initiative is to enhance the capacity of the target area community to prevent street level retaliatory violence and to engage in anti-violence activities. Aim4Peace’s methods for reversing this violence epidemic use highly trained street violence interrupters and outreach staff, public education campaigns, Neighborhood Action Teams and community mobilization. Aim4Peace's three primary objectives: To help 90% of Aim4Peace participants decrease incidents of violent behavior; To increase the number of prevented conflicts by 20% from the previous calendar year; and To produce a 20% increase in the return on investment of funds raised.   When: 1/1/2008. The Commission on Violent Crime submitted its 2006 report, strongly urging the city to develop a strategic community-based, public health strategy to stop the shootings and killings. Conflicts were listed as the primary cause of K.C,’s homicides, and the lack of conflict resolution skills to settle arguments by means other than a gun. To address this need, the city created the Mediation Task Force who designed the Aim4Peace strategy to help decrease the number of shootings in the city. Aim4Peace fills a gap that no other youth, social or community service agency at present by directly connecting with high-risk youth and adults (e.g. shooters and killers). Aim4Peace met its objective and is proving to be a more effective response contributing to the reduction of retaliatory violence. Over 80% of the community changes facilitated by Aim4Peace utilized one of the following three behavioral change strategies: providing information, enhancing services and supports, or modifying access, barriers, and opportunities. Approximately, 4 to 5% of the community changes specifically related to each of the following strategies: enhancing skills of the target population, changing the consequences of violent behavior, or changing policies. The EPD area recorded the highest homicide rates for more than 15 years, except in 2009 (2008=63, 2009=38), a 37.7% drop in the homicide rate. Similarly, the annual aggravated assaults in the area dropped 7.8% from 2006-2009. Aim4Peace is grounded in both the social-ecological model, adopted by the Centers for Disease Control as a violence prevention model, and the framework for public health action in communities, adopted by the Institute of Medicine. Aim4Peace coordinates prevention strategies at the (1) individual, (2) relationship, (3) community, and (4) societal levels .
Implementation: Homicide is the leading cause of death for persons aged 16-40 in the Aim4Peace zone, out-pacing morbidity levels caused by motor vehicle accidents, heart disease and cancer. Homicides account for more than 75% of KCMO’s violent crime in an area labeled the “Urban Core” which accounts for only 9% of the city’s land mass (30 out of 320 square miles). Although most residents attempt to live their lives in a law-abiding manner, persons overwhelmed by life, internalizing all of their social and economic woes, have created a different norm. Lifestyles become contributing factors to community tensions, stress, and constant concerns regarding one’s existence. Violent incidents often have their origins in unresolved disputes between street organizations/gangs, as arguments are the primary cause of homicides (31% in 2005 and 29% in 2009). In the absence of positive coping mechanisms, the norm of violence turns primal. Youth living in this community where violence is an accepted norm or frequently observe violence, are at a higher risk to engage in violence. Youth in this high-poverty, violent neighborhood drop out of school at a rate of 42.5%, the second highest rate for the State of Missouri. These risk factors have contributed to KCMO being ranked in the top 20 U.S. most dangerous cities by the CQ Press for more than two decades, ranking homicide as a public health issue plaguing the Aim4Peace zone. It is not unreasonable to think that these problems can be resolved. Violence is a learned behavior resulting from preventable and controllable factors: family instability, poverty, domestic abuse, educational failure, substance abuse, mental or physical illness, as well as low engagement in supportive, productive and positive relationships and activities. Aim4Peace is guided by the premise that shooting is a behavior that can be changed through a systematic, strategic and evidence-based program that includes credible messengers and making alternatives accessible for those who are at highest risk for being involved in gun violence and drug-related crime.
Sustainability:
Lessons Learned:

 

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