Peer and community leader education to prevent youth violence

W. H. Wiist, R. H. Jackson, K. W. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The program described here tests the effectiveness of a community-based and school-based program to reduce violence among African-American and Hispanic adolescents. The program methods are based on social network theory research, which has found that key lay people in communities can be identified and trained to carry out prevention programs. The educational content is based on theories suggesting that characteristics of healthy, adaptive individuals and communities can be taught. A violence-prevention leadership program is provided to a cohort of middle-school student peer leaders and their parents and for the leaders of the neighborhoods around the middle schools. Three matched pairs of urban middle-school attendance zones were randomly assigned to receive either the intervention or serve as a nonintervention control group. Surveys, interviews, and observations were conducted with the peer leaders, their parents, community leaders, and community residents. Sixty-six percent of the peer leaders reported that they had hit someone in the past 30 days. Twenty-six percent of the sixth-graders had punched or beaten someone in the past 30 days. Within the past year, 6% of the adults had slapped or kicked someone. Within the past 30 days, 14% of the sixth-graders had been punched or beaten. Within the past year, 6% of the adults had been punched or beaten. A large percentage of adolescents are victims and perpetrators of violence and are exposed to violence in their neighborhoods. Violence-prevention strategies can be implemented through collaborations among health departments, community-based organizations, universities, and schools. Medical Subject Headings (MESH): violence, primary prevention, program evaluation, longitudinal studies, adolescence, peer group, minority groups, school-age population, community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number5 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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