Peacebuilding Cornerstone:
Supporting comprehensive activities and strategies in communities working to address such challenges as crime, violence, and gangs. Effective programs may include hands on street outreach and intervention, mental health services, out-of-school programs, police/community relations, and arts-based practices…

Page Sections:
| Empowering Strategies and Programs | Policy Proposals
Key Statistics | Organizations and Links
See all Five Peacebuilding Cornerstones

Statistical Spotlight:

In Chicago, the Becoming a Man program, which places disadvantaged boys from 7th-10th grade into mentoring relationships, saw among their participants a 44 percent drop in arrests for violent crime and an up to 23 percent increase in graduation rates.

Diversion and mentoring programs produce $3.36 of benefits for every dollar spent, aggression replacement training produces $10 of benefits for every dollar spent, and Functional Family therapy produces $18 of benefits for every dollar spent.

Community Peacebuilding activities and strategies encompass a vast number of practices that bring together youth, adults, governments, organizations and schools to help cultivate peace and healing in local communities. Empower_cropThere are many exciting and effective fields of work in this arena. The techniques below, and others, have proven to be far more effective and life-affirming than more traditional punitive oriented approaches relied upon so heavily today. In a nation with the highest incarceration rates in the developed world, it is important, particularly in neighborhoods highly impacted by violence, that robust and comprehensive peacebuilding strategies and programs be implemented. This will help build community resilience.

Empowering Strategies and Programs, Proven Efficacy:

Prevention and Intervention: Quality prevention incorporates data collection and analysis to pinpoint populations and locations at greatest risk, to identify risk and resilience factors, to develop effective strategies that prevent violence before it occurs, and to reduce the impact of those risk factors that cause violence to recur. Community peacebuilding can utilize a public health approach to deal with violence that engages multiple sectors to coordinate with each other and community members. This is similar to those used to reverse epidemic disease outbreaks.

A program example is Chicago’s Cure Violence Health Model, which is a public health based street outreach program. The focuses are: 1) Detect and interrupt potentially violent conflicts; 2) Identify and treat the highest risk individuals; and 3) Mobilize the community to change norms. Trained violence interrupters and outreach workers prevent shootings by identifying and mediating potentially lethal conflicts in the community, and following up in various ways to ensure that the conflict does not reignite.

The focus of public health is on the health, safety and well-being of entire populations. A unique aspect of the field is that it strives to provide the maximum benefit for the largest number of people.

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Public health draws on a science base that is multi-disciplinary. It relies on knowledge from a broad range of disciplines including medicine, epidemiology, sociology, psychology, criminology, education, and economics. This broad knowledge base has allowed the field of public health to respond successfully to a range of health conditions across the globe. The field also emphasizes input from diverse sectors including health, education, social services, justice, policy and the private sector.

Gang Violence Prevention: Prevention and intervention approaches that have proven to be effective usually center on the idea of empowering young people to make healthier choices by providing them with systemic physical & emotional support and the resources to do so.  Many of the included programs and strategies in this document are good examples of what is needed.

Trauma-Informed Child- and Family-Service System: This is an approach in which all parties involved recognize and respond to the impact of traumatic stress on those who have contact with the system including children, caregivers, and service providers. Programs and agencies within such a system infuse and sustain trauma awareness, knowledge, and skills into their organizational cultures, practices, and policies. They act in collaboration with all those who are involved with the child, using the best available science, to facilitate and support the recovery and resiliency of the child and family.

Integrated and Systemic Family/Community Support Services: This includes MultiSystemic and/or Functional Family Therapy, which are intensive family- and community-based treatment programs that focus on addressing all environmental systems that impact chronic and violent juvenile offenders — their homes and families, schools and teachers, neighborhoods and friends.empower2_crop

Police and At-Risk Youth Relationship Building: Through workshops and intensive retreats, some communities are finding this as a means to reduce disproportionate minority contact, to deal with mistrust in the legal system, and to bring young people together with law enforcement officers in a more positive environment. This can help both groups build understanding, humanize one another, learn from each other, and create greater trust.

Domestic Violence Prevention and Support Services: The services and programs offer support for families, including emergency housing, emotional support and tools to move forward.

Mentoring: Peer-to-peer or adult to youth mentoring can be exceptionally effective at empowering students to succeed in school and on their personal journeys — providing youth with guidance and support from caring and committed adults. Mentoring is also a proven method for gang violence prevention and intervention, particularly when mentors are individuals who have experienced the violence of gang involvement and have chosen a different path.

Community Policing: Community policing is, in essence, a collaboration between the police and the community that identifies and solves community problems. All members of the community become active allies in the effort to enhance the safety and quality of neighborhoods through communication.

Life Skills: Social/emotional learning teaches self awareness, empathy, impulse control, motivation and nonviolent communication & social skills — all designed to give people tools to better deal with conflict in their lives.

Arts-Oriented Practices: Using art, music and/or performance to skill build, address conflict, deal with trauma, and encourage self expression.

Quality After-School and Out-of-School Programming: Providing resources for youth to engage in positive activities in communities.

Mental Health Services


Policy Proposals:

Increased federal, state and local funding for all of the above approaches.

Pass the Youth PROMISE Act, a bill aimed to reduce youth incarceration by funding effective, locally determined prevention, intervention, mentoring and educational programs.

Support increased funding for Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act supported programs.

Support CDC Injury Prevention & Control, Intentional Injury Prevention Program to award competitive grants to community health departments, hospitals, universities and community organizations that use an epidemic control approach to violence reduction that includes public health approach and uses trained violence interrupters, outreach staff, public health ed campaigns and community mobilization.

Pass the REDEEM Act and Second Chance Act to support reintegration efforts for those who have experienced past convictions.

Support for youth homelessness and runaways, who are at much higher risks of being subject to violence.

Violence Against Women Act: continue to authorize and fund.

Family Violence Prevention and Services Act: (domestic violence) funding and support.

Greater Overarching Infrastructure: whether a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peacebuilding, or significant growth in other top-level agencies like Dept. of Justice, Centers for Disease Control, or others, we must organize ourselves more fundamentally around the work and principles of peacebuilding.


Key Statistics: Challenges and Solutions

On average, the annual cost of violence related only to paying for police, justice, corrections and the productivity effect of violent crime, homicide and robbery is $3,257 for each U.S. taxpayer or $460 billion for the United States economy. [2012 US Peace Index, Institute for Economics and Peace]

A major study by the non-partisan Washington State Institute for Public Policy found that for every dollar spent on county juvenile detention systems, $1.98 of “benefits” was achieved in terms of reduced crime and costs of crime to taxpayers. By contrast, diversion and mentoring programs produced $3.36 of benefits for every dollar spent, aggression replacement training produced $10 of benefits for every dollar spent, and multi-systemic therapy produced $13 of benefits for every dollar spent. [The Juvenile Justice System in Washington State: Recommendations to Improve Cost-Effectiveness, 2002]

A study of the CeaseFire Illinois program showed $15.77 in cost-savings achieved for every dollar spent[Calculated from Ludwig 2010, Skogan 2010]

A study by the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab reported that 800 disadvantaged boys from seventh through tenth grade who were placed in Becoming a Man (BAM) programs in 2009-2010 school year, experienced a 44 percent drop in arrests for violent crime and an up to 23 percent increase in graduation rates. [ ]

Starting in 1994, Ohio implemented RECLAIM Ohio, a performance-based funding partnership between the state and local governments that expanded counties’ use of effective, cost-efficient community based options for lower-risk juvenile offenders. The program has helped cut recidivism rates and saved the state millions of dollars, while annual admissions to Department of Youth Services (DYS) facilities fell more than 80 percent between fiscal 1992 and 2012, from more than 3,700 to 633.2.

In the U.S., youth homicide rates are more than 10 times that of other leading industrialized nations, on par with the rates in developing countries and those experiencing rapid social and economic changes. The youth homicide rate in the U.S. stood at 11.0 per 100,000 compared to France (0.6 per 100 000), Germany (0.8 per 100 000), the United Kingdom (0.9 per 100 000) and Japan (0.4 per 100 000). [World Report on Violence and Health, World Health Organization 2002]

One in six American women has reported being the victim of an attempted or completed rape, and 10% of sexual assault victims are men. [2004 National Crime Victimization Survey]

In a study conducted in the 50 States and the District of Columbia, nearly 25% of women (1 in 4)  and 7.6% of men were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime. [Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 181867, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, at iii (2000), available at]

A CDC/Johns Hopkins evaluation of a Baltimore Cure Violence/Ceasefire programs showed statistically significant reductions in all four program sites with reductions in killings of up to 56% and in shootings of up to 44%, as well as strong evidence of norm change – rejecting the use of violence – in the program community. []


Organizations & Links:
The groups are listed here for educational purposes only.  Listing them here is not meant to imply that they endorse the above ideas.

A Prevention Institute initiative, UNITY builds support for effective, sustainable efforts to prevent violence before it occurs, so that urban youth can thrive in safe environments with ample opportunities and supportive relationships. UNITY utilizes a public health, or prevention, approach to violence. Prevention is a viable and critical component of a balanced approach that also includes intervention and enforcement/suppression. Of particular interest is the Policy Platform: UNITY Urban Agenda for Preventing Violence Before it Occurs: Bringing a Multi-Sector Prevention Approach to Scale in U.S. Cities
and, Addressing and Preventing Trauma at the Community Level.

Cure Violence:
Cure Violence stops the spread of violence in communities by using the methods and strategies associated with disease control – detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals, and changing social norms.

The River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding:
A local organization in Gainesville, Florida, is empowering their community to prevent, reduce, and heal from violence in all forms. They facilitate dialogues, workshops and trainings specifically geared towards fostering better communication and conflict resolution tools for individuals, law enforcement, schools and families. One such workshop involves bringing together local police officers and at-risk youth to explore de-escalation techniques, foster personal relationships between youth and police participants, and reduce disproportionate minority contact.

Great video:

Multisystemic Therapy:
See above for details…

Functional Family Therapy:
See above for details…

Family and Youth Services Bureau:
The Family Violence Prevention and Services Program administers the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the primary federal funding stream dedicated to the support of emergency shelter and related assistance for victims of domestic violence and their children.

Association for Conflict Resolution:
A professional organization enhancing the practice and public understanding of conflict resolution.  ACR gives voice to the choices for quality conflict resolution.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network:
To raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families and communities throughout the United States.

Center for Disease Controls Public Health approach to Violence Prevention

More to come

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* Peacebuilding is a broad field that covers a wide spectrum of approaches beyond what we focus on in these five cornerstones. Our focus is primarily on those tools that directly improve the basic ways we relate and communicate with one another — enhancing greater cooperation. We advocate for policies, legislation and systems needed to move the work of peacebuilding forward. We welcome the work of all peace advocates and diverse peacebuilding organizations. Our hope is to align our intentions and collective peacebuilding actions for a brighter future.