Multi-Component Violence Prevention Initiative: Field-Initiated Research Study

This study expanded on the evaluation of the Massachusetts Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI), designed to reduce and prevent gun violence throughout the state by using an innovative, coordinated, multi-system approach to target high-risk violent young men.

Researchers from WestEd’s Justice & Prevention Research Center, in partnership with the American Institutes for Research and David Weisburd of George Mason University, explored:

  • How police involvement in the SSYI impacts cultural norms around violence in disadvantaged neighborhoods
  • The impact of SSYI funding on violent crime compared to similar cities in the state
  • How outcomes are moderated by other local, state, and federal violence prevention initiatives targeting the same communities

Research Findings

Overall, SSYI cities experienced a statistically significant drop of 2.8 violent crimes each month per 100,000 residents relative to 32 comparison cities. In Boston, SSYI was not the lone factor in violence reductions, but the analyses suggest an additive effect after SSYI was implemented in the city.

The correlation between concentrated disadvantage and violence limited further examination of the relationship between these factors and the effects of SSYI.

Other findings include a strong correlation between disadvantage and cultural norms of violence among residents in the treatment cities.

In addition, negative perceptions of police legitimacy and norms of violence were similarly consistent across the SSYI communities, and warrants further investigation on how these factors relate to violence and concentrated disadvantage in cities.

The study builds on the evidence base for the effects of multi-component violence prevention efforts, and unearths complex relationships among residents, police, and acceptance of violence in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods.