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Using Community-Based Participatory Research to Develop the PARTNERS Youth Violence Prevention Program


Background: School-based violence prevention programs have shown promise for reducing aggression and increasing children's prosocial behaviors. Prevention interventions within the context of urban after-school programs provide a unique opportunity for academic researchers and community stakeholders to collaborate in the creation of meaningful and sustainable violence prevention initiatives.

Objectives: This paper describes the development of a collaborative between academic researchers and community leaders to design a youth violence prevention/leadership promotion program (PARTNERS Program) for urban adolescents. Employing a community-based participatory research (CBPR) model, this project addresses the needs of urban youth, their families, and their community.

Methods: Multiple strategies were used to engage community members in the development and implementation of the PARTNERS Program. These included focus groups, pilot testing the program in an after-school venue, and conducting organizational assessments of after-school sites as potential locations for the intervention.

Results: Community members and academic researchers successfully worked together in all stages of the project development. Community feedback helped the PARTNERS team redesign the proposed implementation and evaluation of the PARTNERS Program such that the revised study design allows for all sites to obtain the intervention over time and increases the possibility of building community capacity and sustainability of programs.

Conclusion: Despite several challenges inherent to CBPR, the current study provides a number of lessons learned for the continued development of relationships and trust among researchers and community members, with particular attention to balancing the demand for systematic implementation of community-based interventions while being responsive to the immediate needs of the community.