Youth violence is a serious public health issue, particularly in the disproportionate burden upon economically disadvantaged, inner city, and minority populations. Intentional injury is the leading cause of death among persons 10 to 24 years of age in Kentucky, and the second leading cause of death for this age group nationally. Alarmingly, Kentucky's homicide rate for this same age group is 10 times higher for Black males (38.7/100,000) than for White males (3.9/100,000). In Louisville, KY, substantial social and health disparities-including violence and related risk factors-are concentrated in West Louisville (WL), an economically disadvantaged, urban, primarily Black community. Led by the School of Public Health & Information Sciences (SPHIS), researchers at the University of Louisville (UofL) propose to establish the UofL Youth Violence Prevention Center, partnering with researchers from Vanderbilt University.
The specific aims of the proposed center include: 1. Strengthen the infrastructure to support youth violence prevention research and practice at the University of Louisville. 2. Develop, implement and evaluate a community-level social norming campaign to change the norms of violence among youth in West Louisville using mass and social media. 3. Document the development and implementation of the social norming campaign to improve replication and scalability in other settings or communities. 4. Evaluate the relationship between community readiness, community capacity, and the implementation of the community-level social norming campaign. 5. Disseminate study findings in meaningful and actionable format to a variety of relevant audiences (i.e., community, local organizations and leaders, youth violence prevention researchers and practitioners, academic peers, and policy-makers). The interdisciplinary research team proposes a quasi-experimental design to examine the effectiveness of using a community-level 3-year social norming campaign utilizing new media to change norms of violence among youth 10-24 and introduce prosocial norms driven by cultural identity, with WL as the intervention community and East Nashville, TN as the control community. The researchers and a team of community collaborators will with a professional advertising agency to plan and design the campaign, which will be deployed in Year 2. Surveys and interviews will capture data measuring our dependent variables of social norms and violent behavior (independent variables: campaign exposure by media type, demographics), and population-level youth violence data from schools, emergency departments, and local police departments will offer measures of change in serious youth violence at the population level.

Public Health Relevance

Intentional injury is the leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 24 in Kentucky, and the homicide rate in the state for the same age group is 10 times higher for Black males (38.7/100,000) than for White males (3.9/100,000). Youth in West Louisville, a predominantly Black, economically disadvantaged, urban community are subjected to social norms of violence. A targeted community-level social norming campaign holds potential to shift existing norms and reduce serious violence among young people in this community.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCE1)
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University of Louisville
Schools of Public Health
United States
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