There are many ways and at many levels that an individual can begin to take action to prevent violence in our communities. Whether you'd like to start a movement individually, or begin to rally a small group to reach out to your community, various actions can facilitate further work by others to address this public health issue.
Roll up your sleeves and take action!
Talk About Violence.
Join or form a discussion group at your school to promote awareness about how violence affects the lives of those around you.
Be a role model.
- Act as a role model and take a non-violent approach to solving conflicts.
- Follow the 3 R’s: Respect yourself, respect others, and take responsibility for others.
- Surround yourself with positive influences and choose your friends wisely.
Learn to recognize warning signs of violence and prevention tactics.
- Teach yourself and other young people anger management techniques so that they learn to recognize and prevent violence in themselves and others.
- Some basic techniques include: recognizing the physical signs of anger (such as tension/stress), learning to take a “time out” and walk away, and figuring out the ways to calm yourself when you feel anger arising.
Look for opportunities for engagement in your community.
- Use free time to find activities that help you develop a sense of belonging in your community.
- Join a sports team or an after-school music or arts program at your school.
- Check your local school and community groups about club and activity offerings.
- Join your local Boys and Girls Club (www.bgcc.org)
- Join the youth group of a religious association in your community.
- Engage in community service—find ways to volunteer and give back to your community.
- Become a tutor for younger kids in your community.
- Organize a community-wide cleanup of a local site, such as a playground.
- Plant flowers in a public area for the whole community to enjoy.
- Voice your concerns about guns to law enforcement by showing up at a sentencing or talking to police and prosecutors
- Help make gun violence a priority and motivate the proper agencies to bring intervention and prevention programs to the forefront
- Step Up, Speak Out (www.stepupspeakout.org)
For Your Family...
Promote positive thinking amongst members of your family.
- Encourage positive communication and support within the family.
- Communication is key, so agree on rules and decisions together as a family. Assign responsibilities to every member of the family.
- Make family time a priority – try to have family dinners at least once a week, or set aside free time to have a movie night or game night with the entire group.
Be a positive role model for your child.
- Take the time to talk and listen to your child and teach them to respect and trust others, while also teaching them to be careful and aware of those around them.
- Help your child become a good friend and member of society.
Help your child learn to cope with conflict.
- Teach your child how to ACT calm:
- Acknowledge: angry feelings/changes in their bodies
- Calm down: breathe deeply, count to 10, walk away, or find an escape mechanism (punch a pillow, run, play music)
- Think and Talk: figure out ways to fix the problem; talk about why you are mad and how to fix the problem without fighting
- If someone tries to start a fight, your child can be the one to stay CALM:
- Calm down: keep a safe distance from the other person, take slow, deep breaths, stay alert and stand tall
- Avoid: name calling/insulting and avoid other kids who may want to fight
- Listen: calmly and figure out what the person really wants
- Move On: find ways to solve the problem without fighting (such as through humor, reasoning, or walking away)
- In the case that your teen gets into a fight:
- Find out what happened and encourage open communication about it.
- Help your child resolve the problem rather than allowing them to provoke further fighting.
- Develop a safety plan for the future.
- Support your teen in the aftermath of the violent episode by spending time with them and making yourself available to them if they’d like to talk about their feelings or concerns.
Take an Active Role in Your Child’s Life.
- Engage in conversation on a daily basis and familiarize yourself with your child’s life (ask them questions about their friends, school, and other activities).
- Set up positive communication with clear limits and expectations.
- Recognize warning signs in the case that your child might need help or is at-risk.
- Some warning signs include changes in school performance, skipping school, or a change in communication style.
- Keep your teen safe:Start or join a parents’ support group.
- Know where he/she is after school (as the highest levels of violence occur the two hours following the end of school hours)
- Join the PTA or parent’s council at your child’s school to get involved in their academic life.
Use the wisdom in your community.
- Take advantage of the resources already existing in your community, as well as the knowledge and power of those actively involved in your community.
Encourage community spirit and unity.
- Spearhead efforts to help mobilize the community, such as organizing a day to pick up trash or plant trees in a central location.
- Ask the local library to provide you with space for a peace exhibition or ask friends to draw, write stories and poems regarding different things that could be done to prevent violence in your community.
Promote community safety.
- Join or help form community groups to help keep your neighborhood safe.
Become an active member in your community.
- Lead and encourage efforts at school to have an awareness campaign regarding youth violence prevention. (for example, the National Youth Violence Prevention Week is funded by the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere, and is organized with the Guidance Group and the National Youth Violence Prevention Campaign. The campaign involves challenges and activities to promote peaceful approaches and safe behavior in violent situations.)
- Join a youth city council and work against youth violence, or if there is none, ask the local council to form a youth council to actively work and combat youth violence.
- Mobilize different agencies in the community to coordinate their programs to prevent gang involvement. These programs might include: at-risk youth education, training and employment programs to deter gang involvement, actively reaching out to gang-involved youth and their families.
- Explore local opportunities to learn and participate in the ongoing conversations and programs that address violence prevention
More Ways to Get Involved TODAY...
Join SCY's mailing list to become a violence prevention partner and learn more about opportuntities to get involved and impact change--join today!
Volunteer opportunities you can participate in today.
- Become a mentor or tutor for at-risk youth in the Chicagoland area. Becoming a mentor is one of the most impactful ways you can help the fight against youth violence. To find various mentoring programs in certain areas, visit Tutor/Mentor Connection, an organization that connects mentors to youth.
- Volunteer with EnlaceChicago, which runs programs focused on safety, grief support, art, advocacy, mentorship, and violence prevention
- Volunteer with Austin Coming Together, which aims to build networks among businesses, religious and nonprofit organizations, and residents
- Get involved with After School Matters, a CPS partner and legacy of Maggie Daley, offers programs in areas such as Web development, dance, creative writing, tennis, biology, computer animation
- Promote events, fundraise, or teach for the Yollocalli Arts Reach, an initiative of the National museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, which offers classes for teens and kids to give them a creative outlet
Engage and learn today.
- Attend a Steppenwolf performance of “How Long Will I Cry?”
- Watch a free streaming of “The Interrupters,” a 2011 documentary by PBS
- Watch training videos made by the CDC’s initiative “Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere”
- Pledge to spread the word about the National Violent Death Reporting System, which generates data on crime patterns to help with violence-prevention strategies.
- Educational materials from Chicago Dept. of Public Health's office of Violence Prevention
- Train yourself with approaching kids who have been exposed to violence with videos from Chicago Safe Start
- Become a member of Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E) and help build community through work groups focusing on economic and youth development as well as civic engagement.
- Read the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago's "Gun Violence Among School-Age Youth in Chicago" report, which analyzes youth violence and discusses what can be done about it.
- Tips were adapted from the Philadelphia Collaborative Prevention Center’s “Youth Tips” document. (http://phillyviolenceprevention.org/safe-neighborhoods/YouthTips.pdf)
- Connected Kids: Safe, Strong, Secure Publications by the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Time Out Chicago: Thirty Ways You Can Help Stop Youth Violence