Youth Violence in Tuscaloosa and West Alabama . . .

Death and injuries from youth violence causes a major public health problem here in Tuscaloosa and West Alabama. Significant variations in the extent of this problem exist within and between areas of Tuscaloosa and West Alabama. There exist a broad range of viable strategies for preventing youth violence, some of which have been shown to be particularly effective. However, no single strategy is on its own likely to be  sufficient to reduce the health burden of youth violence. Instead, multiple concurrent approaches will be needed and they will need to be relevant to the specific place where they are implemented. What is successful in preventing youth violence in Birmingham, Atlanta, or Memphis, will not necessarily work here in Tuscaloosa and West Alabama.

Over the past decade or so, much has been learned about the nature and causes of youth violence and how to prevent it. This knowledge, although based primarily on research has provided a foundation from which to develop successful programs to prevent youth violence. I will admit that there is much more to be learned about prevention. Based upon the current level of knowledge, the following suggestion, if implemented, should lead to greater understanding and more effective prevention of youth violence.

Develop data collection systems

The development of data collection systems for routine monitoring of trends in violent behavior, in injuries and in deaths should form the basis of prevention efforts. Such data should provide valuable information for formulating public policies and programs to prevent you violence and for evaluating them. Simple approaches to the surveillance of youth violence are desperately needed that can be applied in a wide range of cultural settings.

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