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Preventing violence in low-income communities: Facilitating residents’ ability to intervene in neighborhood problems.

Ohmer, Mary L.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare. 37(2): 161-181.

The violence found in low-income communities, including areas
of concentrated poverty, is often extensive and can involve illegal
drugs, juvenile delinquency, and even homicide. A large body of
research has emerged which points to the positive effects of informal
social control and social capital in preventing violence in lowincome
communities, including neighbors taking leadership roles
by intervening themselves. This article contains a description of an
exploratory study of a pilot training program the authors developed
to facilitate residents’ ability to intervene in neighborhood problems
in a low-income community in Atlanta, Georgia. The training incorporated
concepts from restorative justice, peacemaking criminology,
and macro social work, particularly consensus organizing. The
results demonstrated that after their participation in the training,
residents were more likely to intervene in a variety of neighborhood
problems and were more likely to use direct, non-violent and peaceful
intervention strategies. Participants also improved their attitudes about intervening, feeling it was appropriate to intervene and their
neighborhood was safer if residents intervened in problem behaviors.
This article provides an important step in exploring the development
of informal social control and social capital in low-income
neighborhoods. Moreover, the strategies used in the training program
can be used by social workers to design programs to prevent violence.


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