Preventing Violence

Why this needs our attention

The epidemic of violence in Chicago has raised concern not just locally, but across the nation and even internationally.

At Lurie Children's, we are particularly troubled by the impact that violence has on children and adolescents and the disparities among our communities of color. Within Chicago communities, violence continues to disproportionately affect young black males. According to the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System started at Lurie Children’s, in 2017, African American/Black boys were 13.7 times more likely to die from gun violence than their non-Black counterparts.

Not only are far too many children and youth injured by violence—over 7,000 emergency room visits and hospitalizations for violence-related injury impacted youth between 2016 and 2018 – it takes a toll on children's overall health and long-term well-being. Parents in neighborhoods with high levels of violence are afraid to let their children go outside to play, children are traumatized by the all-too-frequent sound of gunfire, and children lose family members and friends to death and to prison.

What Lurie Children's is doing to address it 

Outside of the hospital walls, Lurie Children's is working to prevent violence in Chicago. Our clinical expertise extends into the community through an array of initiatives that address pressing health challenges affecting children, youth and families. We can make our city safer by ensuring access to mental health services, adopting common sense approaches to gun violence prevention and improving the justice system.

Strengthening Chicago's Youth (SCY), the largest violence prevention collaborative in Chicago, serves as a catalyst for innovative ideas to prevent violence using a public health approach. SCY works with community-based organizations, health care and mental health providers, youth leaders, advocates, researchers and others to spread strategies that are working and develop promising new strategies.

One example of SCY’s work is the Juvenile Justice Collaborative (JJC), which aims to minimize further involvement of arrested youth in the justice system and reduce racial disparities by facilitating and coordinating access to comprehensive support services that meet adolescents’ developmental needs. The model is built on an extensive body of research regarding the most promising strategies to interrupt the trajectory of youth violence.

Our impact

  • SCY shares knowledge and resources with over 5,000 violence prevention partners from across the city and suburbs
  • SCY hosts various trainings and educational opportunities attended by nearly 1,000 partners annually
  • Over the first three years, the JJC has connected 315 youth to services and 221 successfully completed the program. Between 2017 and 2018, only 18% of youth who completed the program were re-referred to court within one year, compared with 32% of all youth following their first arrest.
  • SCY led the Community-Academic Collaboration to Prevent Violence in Chicago to enhance connections between academic, philanthropic, and community partners to build capacity to develop, implement, and evaluate strategies to reduce health disparities related to violence in Chicago. The project led to the development of tools and guidance on how best to ensure community input in violence prevention research strategies.