Source: (1998) Washington DC: National Insitute of Justice Research Preview, U.S. Department of Justice.

In a major report of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, published in a recent issue of the journal "Science," the researchers found that rates of violence are lower in urban neighborhoods characterized by "collective efficacy." Extending the concept of community cohesion, collective efficacy refers to mutual trust among neighbors combined with willingness to intervene on behalf of the common good, specifically to supervise children and maintain public order. The finding is important because it challenges the prevailing wisdom that crime is the direct result of such factors as poverty, unemployment, the predominance of single-parent households, or the concentration of certain minority groups. These factors do play a role, according to the study. But some Chicago neighborhoods that are largely black and poor have low crime rates. In these neighborhoods, the researchers found that collective efficacy is the most powerful influence keeping violent crime low. (excerpt)

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