As new federal, state and private funds become available to organizations that have built the community violence intervention (CVI) field, it is critical for funders, practitioners and researchers to understand that there is a distinct difference between violence intervention and violence prevention. Both are vital to the well-being of communities, but they take different approaches, require different skills and expertise and address different community needs.
Funding that is specifically intended for violence intervention should not be used to fund violence prevention work, no matter how valuable that work. CVI funds must be dedicated to CVI exclusively. Quite simply, the “I” must mean Intervention.
Violence prevention services are designed to stop violence before it occurs by strengthening community social networks and addressing issues that have been identified as risk factors leading to violence. These services can include youth development/enrichment programming, referrals to mental health and substance abuse treatment, assistance with employment and housing, and community-based support on social or family challenges. All of these efforts are designed to improve individual and community well-being.
Violence intervention reduces violence by providing direct support to those at the greatest danger of being harmed as well as those individuals who are at the greatest risk of perpetuating violence and those who are already connected to violence. Violence intervention workers accomplish this crucial mitigation of harm through street outreach, gang intervention, hospital-based violence interruption, retaliation prevention, and the brokering of peace agreements between rival individuals and groups. Since prevention does not always succeed, it is immeasurably important that a plan is in place to interrupt violence when it does happen. These services are life-saving for those in acute crises. There is a high threshold for arrest and prosecution so often interventionists are the only way to prevent additional people from being hurt or killed.
Given the complex causes and factors of community violence, a broad range of action must be taken in order to meaningfully address it. Prevention and intervention services are both essential in reducing violence and harm. Practitioners have long known and respected the definitions of what violence prevention and intervention are and the differing methods that make up these two types of service. intervention should work with community based research partners to measure its violence reduction impact qualitatively and quantitatively. (This depends on the ability to receive accurate statistics from law enforcement.)
Because the purpose that intervention programs serve is unique in reducing community violence, it is crucial that Community Violence Intervention funds are specifically designated to intervention services only. In order to ensure that these services receive the resources they require to function, it is imperative that those giving and receiving funds draw a distinction between prevention and intervention. Intervention programs serve a unique purpose in reducing community violence, therefore, it is crucial that Community Violence Intervention funds are specifically designated to intervention services only. In order to ensure that these services receive the resources they require to function, it is imperative that those giving and receiving funds draw a distinction between prevention and intervention.
The Community Based Public Safety (CBPS) Collective was designed to help build the field of community violence intervention professionals and to help guide the agencies and funders who are interested in supporting this work to ensure funds are well invested in communities. The members of this Collective are experts in building neighborhood leadership to advance safety -- the courageous individuals and groups on the ground that “do the work” day in and day out to mediate conflict, get people in crisis into supportive services and put youth on a path away from violence and toward stability. The Collective represents and supports the dozens of small, nonprofit, community-led grassroots organizations that, for decades, have been helping to forge peace.