Community Leaders to Examine Philadelphia's Epidemic of Violence

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Institute for Violence Research and Prevention at Saint Joseph's University hosts forum with grass roots leaders seeking solutions to violence in the city

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 12, 2007) — Community leaders from more than a dozen grass roots organizations throughout the city have been invited to a "think-tank" discussion of violence in Philadelphia, hosted by the Institute for Violence Research and Prevention (IVRP) at Saint Joseph's University.

The invitation-only forum will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 7-9 p.m., in the Campion Student Center on the Saint Joseph's campus.  "We went to groups from every quadrant of the city to hear directly about what is happening in their neighborhoods, and to get their insights as to best practices for effectively addressing the violence that is everyone's concern," said Wadell Ridley, assistant vice president for government and community relations at Saint Joseph's.

The information and recommendations gleaned from the Oct. 16 event will be reviewed and compiled by researchers at the IVRP and plans are to present the findings to the current and the next mayoral administration and other public officials at a second "think tank" discussion to be scheduled later in the year.

"Our aim is to gather a comprehensive outline of the issues raised by community leaders and use that to inform the discussion and policy implementation of public officials in response to the escalating violence in the city," said Maria Kefalas, Ph.D., director of the IVRP at Saint Joseph's.

At the Oct. 16 "think tank," those in attendance will be asked to address six questions relating to stemming the tide of violence:

What are two programs or strategies that work best for keeping teenagers out of trouble and out of the way of a random bullet?

What are two programs or strategies that work best for teenagers who continue to run into trouble?

When individuals are released from incarceration, they return home and often find it difficult to get a decent-paying job.

What are two ways that the city can help to give them the support they need in this transition?

What are two things you would suggest changing about the current parole system?

Avoiding "snitching" comes out of a very real fear of payback for cooperating with the police. What advice would you give a new Police Commissioner that would work toward building back trust and protecting witnesses?

What are three things that police can do in neighborhoods to deal with crime?

What can communities do to prepare for stop-and-frisk?  Is there a way that we can make this policy work and make it safe for innocent people?

Confirmed participating organizations for the Oct. 16 event include Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network, African Cultural Alliance of North America, Mothers in Charge, Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, Youth Violence Reduction Partnership, Peace Not Guns, X-Offenders for Community Empowerment, Presbyterian Children's Village, Lutheran Children and Family Service, Adolescent Violence Reduction Partnership, Equal Partners in Change, Town Watch Integrated Services, Every Murder is Real, House of Umoja, Nu Sigma Youth Services and Youth Outreach Adolescent Community Awareness.

"Listening to the voices of the leaders of community-based organizations who are on the front lines of combating violence throughout the city will help researchers and policy makers seeking solutions to the rising tide of violence in our city, and in our society," said Susan Clampet-Lundquist, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology and an associate of the IVRP.

Media Contact

Harriet K. Goodheart, assistant vice president for University Communications, 610-660-1532,

Expand this section