Preventing Violence in Low-Income Communities: Facilitating Residents’ Ability to Intervene in Neighborhood Problemsedit
The violence found in low-income communities, including areas of concentrated poverty, is often extensive and can involve illegal drugs, juvenile delinquency, and even homicide. A large body of research has emerged which points to the positive effects of informal social control and social capital in preventing violence in lowincome communities, including neighbors taking leadership roles by intervening themselves. This article contains a description of an exploratory study ofa pilot training program the authors developed to facilitate residents’ ability to intervene in neighborhood problems in a low-income community in Atlanta, Georgia. The training incorporated concepts from restorative justice, peacemaking criminology, and macro social work, particularly consensus organizing. The results demonstrated that after their participation in the training, residents were more likely to intervene in a variety of neighborhood problems and were more likely to use direct, non-violent and peaceful intervention strategies. Participants also improved their attitudes about intervening,feeling it was appropriate to intervene and their neighborhood was safer if residents intervened in problem behaviors. This article provides an important step in exploring the development of informal social control and social capital in low-income neighborhoods. Moreover, the strategies used in the training program can be used by social workers to design programs to prevent violence.