Week of Events Aims to Raise Awareness of Violence in Philadelphia

Monday, February 18, 2008

Last year, Philadelphia saw 392 lives cut tragically short by homicide. The Saint Joseph's University Institute for Violence Research and Prevention (IVRP) and Faith-Justice Institute are co-hosting Violence Awareness Week, a teach-in to try to better understand why these crimes continue to occur and what measures can be taken to curb the violence in Philadelphia.

The week will begin with the second annual candlelight vigil to remember the victims of homicide Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Chapel of Saint Joseph's-Michael J. Smith, S.J., Memorial. George Bur, S.J., and Rick Malloy, S.J., will preside over this interdenominational service, which is open to the public.

Speaking at the vigil will be Dorothy Johnson-Speight, a mother who lost her 24-year-old son to murder in 2001 over a parking space. Johnson-Speight is the founder of Mothers in Charge, a program dedicated to violence prevention, education and intervention for youth, families and communities.

Programs will continue on Thursday, Feb. 21 during free period in the Francis A. Drexel Library when a panel of experts will discuss restorative justice, conflict resolution, public health, youth violence, the justice system and faith-based violence initiatives as they relate to violence in Philadelphia.

Finally, the events will come to a close with a program entitled "From Outrage to Outreach: Working Toward a Less Violent City," Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m., in the Haub Executive Center. Scott Charles, Trauma Outreach Coordinator for Temple University Hospital, will speak about his work on the trauma team at the busiest emergency department in Philadelphia. He has worked with at-risk youth for 20 years, and is co-director of the Cradle to the Grave project, a violence prevention and intervention project at Temple University Hospital.

According to Maria Kefalas, Ph.D., director of the IVRP and associate professor of sociology, the goal of the event is to show the University's commitment to responding to the crisis of violence in our city.

"By bringing together the people who have been touched by violence — everyone from the families that have lost loved ones to the police patrolling the street — we will raise awareness, and, ultimately, mobilize the resources to help."

--David King '08

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