News & Research 2006

From 2000 through 2005, HYVPC core faculty wrote 3 books and over 70 articles on youth violence prevention. Our four large research projects during this period were:

Research Project 1: Youth Suicide Prevention Research Partnership

HYVPC core staff worked collaboratively with the Northeast Injury Prevention Network (injury control professionals at state health departments in New England, New York and New Jersey) to help each of them develop and implement a community response plan for youth suicide. HYVPC staff: (a) twice provided the Network with a well-received and highly-rated day of training (2001, 2003) on suicide prevention; (b) assembled and summarized their combined data on suicide attempts and completions; (c) developed (with the American Association of Suicidology and Fenton Communications) an eight-page brochure outlining the case for viewing suicide as a preventable public health problem; and (d) with input from the Northeast Network and funds from HRSA, developed internet-based courses to train statewide suicide prevention groups and service providers.
Research Findings: A key finding was that firearm prevalence was highly associated with overall suicide rates, even after controlling for suicide attempts and other relevant variables. The case fatality rate for firearm suicide was over 90%. By comparison, case fatality rates for the most common types of suicide attempts (drugs and cutting) were under 3%.

Research Project 2: Violent Behavior among Urban Girls

We added a qualitative survey focused on girls’ perpetration of aggression to the 80-neighborhood Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods.
Research findings: Our research revealed that girls who were previously victims of physical or sexual assault/molestation were significantly more likely to perpetrate violence. And girls who perpetrated violence were more likely to have families where fighting was an accepted response to a variety of situations, and to be exposed to physical fights among family members. Some of the most serious violence ensued from competition and jealousy among girls over their relationships with boys. Girl perpetrators sometimes viewed fighting back as the only way to achieve future safety from bullying or victimization.

Research Project 3: Intervention/Evaluation of Boston Middle School CHOICES Program

HYVPC helped support and evaluate a Boston-based Outward Bound program, involving a week on Thompson Island (in Boston Harbor) and a 9-week in-class curriculum for 6th and 7th graders. The program was designed to reduce interpersonal conflict, violence, and drug use by helping students learn to make positive choices in their school, home, and social lives. The evaluation included the use of control schools, pre-post surveys, focus groups of students, and interviews with teachers and administrators.
Research findings: A surprising number of middle school students have been exposed to severe levels of violence with deleterious effects. Interventions that emphasize asset building (e.g. improved self-efficacy) may offset some of these negative effects. However, while qualitatively the CHOICES program won praise, it was difficult to find quantitative results of significant reductions in violence attributable to this short intervention.

Research Project 4: Preventing Violence through Referral: Evaluation of Boston Programs

This project used formative, process, and impact evaluation techniques to compare two innovative Boston programs for identifying and helping at-risk youth. In these programs, youth are identified by emergency departments and police referrals, and are channeled to appropriate social service agencies. Since many youth come to the attention of medical staff and police department authorities multiple times, success with individual youth has cumulative benefits for individual adolescents, communities, and service providers.
Research findings: Results indicate a decrease in: (a) weapon carrying, (b) aggressive behavior, and (c) violent victimization lasting at least six months after the initial intervention for youth involved in this initiative.

Progress Reports

Please click on the following link for the previous project period 2000-2006 HYVPC Final Progress Report.

Please click on the following link for the 2005-2006 HYVPC Annual Progress Report .

2004 Boston Youth Survey Report Officially Released
HYVPC is pleased to announce the official joint release of the Report of the 2004 Boston Youth Survey with the City of Boston’s Office of Human Services. The release of this report represents a major milestone in the long-term collaboration between researchers at the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center and city officials from the Office of Human Services and Boston Centers for Youth and Families. For full details about the survey and to download the report, visit the Boston Youth Survey page.

Boston Regional Violence Prevention Skills Building Workshop
The Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, Survivors for Violence Prevention, Inc. and Wheelock College are collaborating to present the Boston Regional Violence Prevention Skills Building Workshop, which is a two-day skill building and leadership development workshop. The workshop, titled “Preparing to Lead, Ready to Learn” will take place April 21-22, 2006 at the Brookline Campus of Wheelock College. This workshop is targeted to those who work with survivors of homicide victims, victim services, violence prevention, law enforcement, public health, and youth services. For more information or to register for the Boston Regional Violence Prevention Advancing Skills Workshop, please contact: Cheryl D. Holmes: 617-998-1079, fax: 617-496-0781 or

Download the Registration form
Invitation Letter

Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center Funding Renewed
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has renewed the center’s funding for a new five-year period, starting in September 2005 and running through 2010. Over the next five years, the center will focus on issues of youth violence within the City of Boston and will continue to collaborate with city agencies on the Boston Youth Survey, a bi-annual survey of high school students. HYVPC will also establish a phone-based survey of adults in Boston’s neighborhoods to measure perceptions of collective efficacy. Together, these surveys, as well as other data sources from the city, will allow us to gather data about youth violence in Boston over time.