Guns, Gangs, and Retaliation/ Community Engagement/Victim Protection

“The Abused and the Abuser: Victim-Perpetrator Dynamics.” 

Warwick Middleton, Adah Sachs, and Martin J. Dorahy. (2017) Journal of Trauma and Dissociation. Vol 18 No. 3 249-258. Accessed June 27, 2017 

Partial Introduction from Paper: …The perpetrators, their victims, and the reluctant witnesses form together a complex and highly emotive relationship, bound in secrets and silence. These are not strangers, but people often who know each other well and play central roles in each other lives. Disentangling their relationship from the harm which is done through the relationship is as painful as the harm itself, and very hard to reach. Shedding light on this complicated and charged relationship is the task that we have asked the contributors to this special issue to engage with. Papers address the abused and the abuser from empirical (Gagnon, Lee, & DePrince; Krüger & Fletcher), therapeutic (Ross), and theoretical (Dorahy; Liotti; Sachs; Sinason; Solinski) angles, drawing on neuroscientific, cognitive, affective, attachment, relational, psychodynamic, betrayal trauma, and animal models, among others. Abused and abuser dynamics are examined primarily in child–adult relationships, with some attention also given to adult dyads (Miller). Topics still lingering on the fringe of the trauma literature, or those largely absent, such as mother–son incest (Haliburn), organized abuse (Salter), supervisory challenges in managing dissociative abuser dynamics (Chefetz), ongoing incestuous abuse (Middleton), and sexual enactment in the therapy context as a form of safety (Kluft) are addressed. Reflections of a lived experience of professional ostracization associated with espousing the reality and effect of abuse are also shared (Masson). The uniqueness of bringing together such a collection of papers on the abused and the abuser in this special issue is reflected in this being the first ever double issue of the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation…


“Social Network Position of Gang Members in Schools: Implications for Recruitment and Gang Prevention” 

Owen Gallupe & Jason Gravel. (May 19, 2017). Justice Quarterly. Accessed June 27, 2017 

Paper Introduction: Schools are venues in which gang and non-gang involved youth converge. It is therefore a likely venue for gang recruitment. The extent to which this occurs depends upon the ability of gang members to connect with non-gang members. In this study, we compare the social network positions of high social status gang members who are well integrated into school networks with low status members who are not. Using network data from the Add Health study (n = 1,822), we find that not only are high status gang members strongly embedded within school networks, but that this status is driven by their ability to connect with non-gang members rather than other gang members (indicated by the high number of friendship nominations they receive from non-gang members). These gang members are potentially in optimal positions to influence others to join gangs. The implications of these results for school-based gang prevention programs are discussed.


“The Transmission of Gun and Other Weapon-Involved Violence Within Social Networks.” ​

Melissa Tracy, Anthony A. Braga, and Andrew V. Papachristos. Epidemiol Rev (2016) 38 (1): 70-86.

Abstract: Fatal and nonfatal injuries resulting from gun violence remain a persistent problem in the United States. The available research suggests that gun violence diffuses among people and across places through social relationships. Understanding the relationship between gun violence within social networks and individual gun violence risk is critical in preventing the spread of gun violence within populations. This systematic review examines the existing scientific evidence on the transmission of gun and other weapon-related violence in household, intimate partner, peer, and co-offending networks. Our review identified 16 studies published between 1996 and 2015 that suggest that exposure to a victim or perpetrator of violence in one's interpersonal relationships and social networks increases the risk of individual victimization and perpetration. Formal network analyses find high concentrations of gun violence in small networks and that exposure to gun violence in one's networks is highly correlated with one's own probability of being a gunshot victim. Physical violence by parents and weapon use by intimate partners also increase risk for victimization and perpetration. Additional work is needed to better characterize the mechanisms through which network exposures increase individual risk for violence and to evaluate interventions aimed at disrupting the spread of gun and other weapon violence in high-risk social networks.

“Triggerman Today, Dead Man Tomorrow.” ​

David C. Pyrooz and Kathleen A. Fox. Chapter 11, pp 197-206. The Wiley Handbook on the Psychology of Violence. 2016. Edited by Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom

Overview: The researchers state that gang violence is more likely to occur in “cities with greater economic and social disadvantage and higher population density…” The researchers state that current research examines nature, extent, and correlation of gang violence, but less research is available pertaining to the “interrelationship between gang membership, violence perpetration and violent victimization.” The article is divided into three chapters covering: The Victim-Offender Overlap, Extending the Victim-Offender Overlap to Gangs, and Gang Membership and Violent Offending.

“Community Engagement in Youth Violence Prevention: Crafting Methods to Context.” ​

Morrel-Samuels, S., Bacallao, M., Brown, S. et al. J Primary Prevent (2016) 37: 189. doi:10.1007/s10935-016-0428-5.

Abstract: The purpose of the Youth Violence Prevention Centers (YVPC) Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to reduce youth violence in defined high-risk communities through the implementation and evaluation of comprehensive, evidence based prevention strategies. Within this common framework, each YVPC varies in its structure and methods, however all engage communities in multiple ways. We explore aspects of community engagement employed by three centers that operate in very different contexts: a rural county in North Carolina; a suburban area of Denver, Colorado; and an urban setting in Flint, Michigan. While previous research has addressed theories supporting community involvement in youth violence prevention, there has been less attention to the implementation challenges of achieving and sustaining participation. In three case examples, we describe the foci and methods for community engagement in diverse YVPC sites and detail the barriers and facilitating factors that have influenced implementation. Just as intervention programs may need to be adapted in order to meet the needs of specific populations, methods of community engagement must be tailored to the context in which they occur. We discuss case examples of community engagement in areas with varying geographies, histories, and racial and ethnic compositions. Each setting presents distinct challenges and opportunities for conducting collaborative violence prevention initiatives and for adapting engagement methods to diverse communities. Although approaches may vary depending upon local contexts, there are certain principles that appear to be common across cultures and geography: trust, transparency, communication, commitment. We also discuss the importance of flexibility in community engagement efforts.

The Denver Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC): An Example of Successful Implementation of NIBIN as an Investigative Tool

Reno, Charles and Kotas, Zachary.

AFTE Journal Volume 47 Number 4, Fall 2015. Accessed August 23, 2016.

Abstract: Since its beginning, the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) has been widely used during the course of routine laboratory work. In recent years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) has begun to expand the NIBIN program and promote its use as an intelligence tool. The Denver Police Department Crime Laboratory was selected as an early participant in this new vision of the NIBIN program and has shown remarkable success in its implementation. This paper discusses the reasons for Denver’s early and continued success in their use of the NIBIN system.

Patterns of Gun Acquisition, Carrying, and Use among Juvenile and Adult Arrestees: Evidence from a High-Crime City.

Watkins, Adam, Beth Huebner and Scott H. Decker.  2008.  Justice Quarterly, 25(4), 674-700.

Abstract: The study’s results illustrate the prevalence of gun‐involved behaviors among adults and juveniles. Juveniles were more likely to carry and fire a gun, and that gun behaviors among juveniles are largely driven by gang membership, while ready access to guns, fear of the street, and the risks of arrest more largely influence adult behaviors.

Federal Actions to Engage Communities in Reducing Gun Violence: Recommendations from the Engaging Communities Report.

The Urban Institute.  January 2017. Accessed March 8, 2018

Abstract: Decades of research confirm that urban gun violence has devastating effects on the physical health, mental health, economic vitality, and future growth of US communities (Wilson et al. 1998; Buka et al. 2001; Irvin-Erickson et al. 2016; Schwartz and Gorman 2003). Furthermore, these effects fall disproportionately on neighborhoods already highly disadvantaged because of several factors, including limited employment opportunities, poor infrastructure, underinvestment, and structural and racial inequality (Krivo and Peterson 1996). Many responses to gun violence have relied on sweeping tactics with the potential to label entire neighborhoods as “violent.” However, such generalizations can be counterproductive, undercutting community members’ potential to become essential allies in reducing gun violence and failing to recognize that gun violence and victimization are typically concentrated within a very small subset of people and places (Tyler and Fagan 2008; Papachristos and Wildeman 2014; Braga, Papachristos, and Hureau 2010). In other words, whole communities are not “violent,” and those most likely to be involved in firearm violence are also more likely to be victims (Braga 2010; Flannery, Singer, and Wester 2001). In the past five years, a growing body of research has supported a move away from aggressive, sweeping enforcement strategies such as New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy. Even if these strategies reduce violence in the short term, they can have devastating long-term effects on trust, legitimacy, and cooperation with law enforcement in the very communities where cooperation is most essential (La Vigne et al. 2014; Weitzer and Tuch 2004; Fagan and Tyler 2008). Research shows that the best strategies to reduce gun violence carefully identify and focus on people at highest risk of violence and combine enforcement with social supports such as behavioral health, housing, and employment services (Braga, Apel, and Welsh 2013). For gun violence reduction efforts to achieve lasting success, it is clear that trust building and investment in communities most affected by violence must be a priority strategic goal. This brief presents a series of concrete actions the federal executive branch can take to reduce urban gun violence through a holistic approach. The most direct gun violence reduction work happens locally, but the federal government can complement these activities by supporting and promoting four key objectives: 1) Reduce easy access to firearms for people at high risk of engaging in violence; 2) Improve trust between police and communities of color; 3) Increase investment in families and communities at greatest risk of violence; 4) Incorporate community engagement into prevention efforts.