NF Header Image

Forum Cities Work Together in Train-the-Trainer Effort

CrimeSolutions.Gov: Accessing Information on Practices

Game Blame

Announcements & Upcoming Events
• Training Opportunities
• Other Opportunities

News & Views
• Reports
• News
• Other Resources

Peer mentoring is a Technical Assistance strategy promoted and embraced by the Forum. In November 2013, the City of Salinas, California, was provided peer mentoring training by fellow Forum city Chicago, Illinois.

At the September 2013 Summit on Preventing Youth Violence, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin approached Dennis Mondoro, OJJDP's senior policy advisor, with a request for training on police legitimacy and how it relates to procedural justice.

The legitimacy of any organization must be earned through thoughtful policy and applied effort. "Legitimacy is a property of an authority or institution that leads people to feel that authority or institution is entitled to be deferred and obeyed," said Dr. Tom Tyler, Yale University psychology professor. It represents "acceptance by people of the need to bring their behavior into line with the dictates of an external authority."

In their study, "The Role of Procedural Justice and Legitimacy in Shaping Public Support for Policing," Dr. Tyler and Jason Sunshine defined procedural justice: "If the public judge that the police exercise their authority using fair procedures, this model suggests that the public will view the police as legitimate and will cooperate with policing efforts."

To complete training in this vital practice, four Salinas police officers left for Chicago, Illinois, on November 3. The group, which was joined by officers from Oakland and Stockton, California, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, had already engaged in departmental training efforts ranging from defensive tactics and officer safety to weapons training on the range and sex crimes investigation. Their goal was to understand the training module and tailor it to the needs of the Salinas Police Department. "The concepts of procedural justice and legitimacy are foundational to law enforcement's ability to gain trust with the community," said Chief McMillin. "It will make us more effective peace officers. I am very excited and thankful the Salinas Police Department had this extraordinary opportunity."

Lieutenant Bruce Lipman, one of two commanding officers at the Chicago Police Department Training Academy, created the training and has taught the course since July 2012. When Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy approached the department's deputy chief to develop the curriculum, Lt. Lipman made the connection between procedural justice and legitimacy and combined the concepts into a flexible 1- to 2-day training program. Of course, he had a great deal of help. In addition to a top-notch team of instructors, Dr. Wesley Skogan developed pre- and posttests for course participants, Officer Alfred Ferreira created a storyboard, Officer Mark Sedevic wrote the lesson plans, Officer Ray Fierro created the PowerPoint slides and developed a link to the Participant's Guide, and Drs. Amy Schuck and Dennis Rosenbaum provided a Procedural Justice training program for recruits a few years before that served as a helpful resource. Chicago offers this training at no cost to any police department that makes a request.

"[What] had the most impact on me was the class design," said Salinas Detective and class participant Kim Robinson. "The vast amount of information available through research regarding procedural justice and legitimacy can be overwhelming, especially in the context of designing a class or program for police officers. [The] Chicago PD has done an outstanding job of adapting the information for this purpose. They have incorporated additional information into their program to help officers understand why we think the way we do, making the concepts of procedural justice and legitimacy much easier to accept and understand."

Procedural justice teaches officers how to communicate with the public in ways that go beyond immediate cooperation or compliance from citizens. "It operates much like a bank account," said Lt. Kendall Gray of the Salinas Police Department, who coordinated the city's training. "The more you invest in good community relations through appropriate treatment of witnesses, suspects, or any citizen we interact with, the greater the return over time." Simply put, the road to police legitimacy runs through the practice of procedural justice.

There is another invaluable benefit of procedural justice: once you begin using it, citizens respond more favorably. That doesn't mean suspects will "jump into the back of your cruiser," said Lt. Lipman, but officers who treat and are treated by citizens in a respectful manner experience less stress.

Engaging with citizens in a positive way leads to less intense confrontations and therefore greater officer safety. "I think the cynicism portion of the training block [affected] me the most," said Officer Robert Zunig. "The content in this portion of the training really explained the different reasons why officers become cynical and focused on some things we can do to avoid it."

Salinas plans to customize and adapt what they've learned and have all 142 sworn officers fully trained by spring 2014. Oakland, Stockton, and Fort Wayne have similar plans, according to Lt. Gray, but their cities are vastly different demographically. For officers to accept and use the material, training targeted to the specific needs of their communities and facilities is critical.

The development of this course is a great example of partnership between the academic community and practitioners. To better link principles of procedural justice to officers in training, Lt. Lipman visited Dr. Tyler's classroom and observed a training session in Chicago, while Dr. Rosenbaum of the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted a survey to determine how citizens were being treated. The results were very positive. At this point, they believe complaints against officers are down. "What [affected] me the most about this training was the simplicity of its content," said Salinas Detective Gabe Gonzalez. "The content of the course focused on things most of us already do on a daily basis. It is a good refresher on the basic principles of the type of police work we should be doing."

Procedural justice and legitimacy struck a chord with the National Forum's Federal Coordination Team and is likely to be the focus of the January 9, 2014, site call.
Every year, video games get a little more lifelike. As high-tech graphics and animation attempt to blur the line between fantasy and reality, the debate about how such games affect the player continues.

Is a young person who plays violent games more likely to engage in aggressive behavior? Based on multiple studies that show watching violent television and movies or playing certain video games can increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior, it is clear that every viewer and player is affected in some way. But a single risk factor does not cause a child to act aggressively. Rather, it is an accumulation of risk factors that leads to an aggressive act, according to University of Wisconsin Professor Leonard Berkowitz, author of "Aggression: Its Causes, Consequences, and Control" (1993). As shown in the risk and resiliency model, each risk factor increases the likelihood of aggression. The effects on players vary and may not be noticeable on the surface, but when considering the many characteristics of a child and his or her environment, research shows media violence consumption increases the relative risk of aggression.

In the 2012 "Report of the Media Violence Commission," which examined 800 independent studies and referenced more than 15 published meta-analyses on media violence and aggression, the authors noted two important points: each study had similar findings, and some researchers "interpret the effect[s] as unimportant, whereas others interpret them as highly important." All of the meta-analyses showed "exposure to media violence can increase not only aggressive behavior in a variety of forms, but also aggressive thoughts, aggressive feelings, [and] physiological arousal, and decrease prosocial behavior."

Just how significantly exposure affects behavior is arguable. When news broke that D.C. Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis was obsessed with military video games, the assumption by many was that a direct and strong link connected the two. But author and sociologist Katherine Newman says research shows only a modest relationship between violent video games and the actions of people influenced by them. "After all," she told ABC News, "millions of kids use video games as entertainment and almost none of them do these kinds of acts." In a similar vein, although data indicate an association between engaging in violent media and aggressive behavior, few studies have looked at the possible relationship between violent games and serious, criminally violent behavior.

While scientific evidence has yet to demonstrate that combative video games have a prolonged negative neurological effect, media violence researchers are conducting studies to determine if changes in cognitive function and emotional control are associated with extended play. As with many examples of what "sticks" in early exposure versus what has little or no impact, a neural process is involved. Different indicators of aggression and violence are linked by neural paths. According to the Media Violence Commission, "whenever a person is exposed to a violent scene, the resulting activation of nodes spreads out to linked nodes and activates them, at least a little. … Often in life, a complex array of sensations, feelings, and concepts are activated together in certain circumstances, and these become linked together in a complex knowledge structure in our brain called a schema or script." Once active, the knowledge structures become key determinants of behavior and may influence what people do beyond their consciousness.

There's much parents and teachers can do to change the way youth process violent media, including curbing access. Focusing on the roles of caregivers who shape a child's early environment and experiences, one component of the Adults and Children Together Raising Safe Kids curriculum explores the relationship between exposure to violent imagery and aggressive behavior, as well as ways to reduce the potential impact on kids. Most important, parents must get the message across that movies, TV shows, and video games are not accurate depictions of real life and should not be taken at face value. Open discussion at home and in the classroom goes a long way in promoting critical thinking and processing of media violence.
Training Opportunities

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) National Council has requested letters of interest from all conservation and youth corps programs that would like to be identified as 21CSC member organizations. The 21CSC is a national effort to put youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing public lands and waters. The deadline for letters is June 30, 2014.

Other Opportunities

OJJDP annually recognizes individuals, organizations, and agencies that have made a difference in recovering abducted children and protecting children from exploitation. Nominations are being accepted for the 2014 Law Enforcement, Citizen, Child Protection, and Attorney General’s Special Commendation Awards. All nominations must be submitted by January 17, 2014.
ON PRACTICES provides information to a broad audience on what works in criminal justice, juvenile justice, and crime victim services. Forum cities can benefit from the wealth of information on evidence-based programs and practices by using this tool.

Using to find programs
Supported by OJP's National Institute of Justice and launched in 2011, includes more than 275 programs and 15 practices that have been assessed for effectiveness, based on rigorous evaluation evidence. Programs in different topic areas, including courts, corrections and reentry, crime and crime prevention, law enforcement, juvenile justice, and victims of crime, are rated as effective, promising, or no effects.

Screen Shot of

The site is easy to use. If you've heard about a program in the database and want to see its rating, simply type in the name of the program to search the site. If you are looking for a program to meet the needs of a certain population or to address a particular need in your jurisdiction, used the Advanced Search function to find programs with a variety of dimensions: topic area, age, gender, program type, race/ethnicity, and so on.

Screen Shot of Advanced Search Feature

For example, you might be interested in programs that help black youth in residential settings. Select these three dimensions and your results will return a list of programs that may help address your needs. Searching by topic "juveniles," setting "residential," and race/ethnicity "black" results in the following list of programs:

List of Programs Resulting from Specific Search

One benefit of the site is that it may help reduce misused funding by including no effects programs. These programs have rigorous evidence that shows the program did not have the intended effects on participants, or, in rare cases, had negative effects. A little more than 10 percent of assessed programs are rated as no effects. In these times of limited resources, it is important to avoid funding strategies and programs that will not achieve desired outcomes.

Many programs simply do not have evidence rigorous enough to justify a rating. reviewers have looked at a large number of programs for which no rating can be assigned. The lack of a rating does not mean the program works or does not work—it simply means we do not yet know if or how well it works based on current information. A list of such programs can be found on the site. If you are considering a program that is not rated, you may want to contribute to others' knowledge by evaluating that program.

Using to find practices
Although knowing which programs have evidence of their effectiveness can be very useful in identifying interventions for potential implementation, it might also be helpful to know how effective a category of programs is overall. For instance, do mentoring programs work? Which components of these programs are most important to the success of an initiative? And what do we know about other types of programs, like adult drug courts and hot spot policing?

To address these questions, OJP supported the development of a practices module on For the purpose of the site, a practice is considered a general category of activities, strategies, or procedures that share similar characteristics in the issues they address and how they address them. To assess the effectiveness of practices, reviewers look at meta-analyses, which evaluate the average effectiveness of the practice in various outcomes across a large number of studies. For example, to assess the effectiveness of juvenile boot camps—rated as no effects—reviewers looked at two meta-analyses. The first included average effects across 10 studies, while the second calculated average effects across 17 studies of juvenile boot camps.

Using the practices module is a bit different from using the programs module—in part because each practice is assessed for how it affects various outcomes. For example, reviewers looked at several meta-analyses and found promising evidence that adult drug courts were effective for reducing multiple crime/offense types and drug and alcohol offenses. However, adult drug courts had no effect on reducing drugs and substance abuse. The information is communicated in this way:

 Crime & Delinquency – Multiple crime/offense types
 Crime & Delinquency – Drug and alcohol offenses
 Drugs & Substance Abuse – Multiple substances

Nominating programs and practices staff conduct active searches to identify new programs and practices for the site. Cities can support and benefit from this process by implementing, evaluating, and nominating programs tried in local jurisdictions. It is as important for the field to learn about efforts that do not work as it is to learn about initiatives that accomplish positive outcomes.

Sharing Ideas and Resources to Keep Schools Safe
National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, 2013
As the nation seeks innovative ways to keep children and adults safe at school, this report assesses products and apps to gauge and prevent potential crises. The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center identifies new uses for standard-bearing technologies in school settings and highlights successful safety programs in urban and rural schools.

Women and Trauma
Federal Partners Committee on Women and Trauma, 2013
This report demonstrates the application of trauma-informed approaches across a wide range of settings and systems and encourages agencies to implement a cross-sector, interagency, intersystem realization, recognition, and response to trauma.

How OJJDP Is Working for Youth Justice and Safety
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2013
OJJDP's Annual Report summarizes past-year funding and initiatives as a voice for youth and families. How the Office has promoted youth safety is evident in its mentoring, reentry, drug court, bullying prevention, and other efforts outlined in the report.

Suicide and Bullying
Suicide Prevention Resource Center, accessed 2013
In a study of 6th, 9th, and 12th grade Minnesota students involved in social and verbal bullying, self-injury was identified as "the most powerful risk factor associated with thinking about or attempting suicide" among young people. Emotional distress was also a significant risk factor. The most significant protective factor was parent connectedness.

Law Enforcement's Leadership Role in Juvenile Justice Practices
International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2013
When asked whether they believe law enforcement leaders play a significant part in the juvenile justice system, 79 percent of survey respondents agreed they should. However, results showed a divergence between the role law enforcement leaders believe they should have and the one they actually play.


In North St. Louis, Gunfire Still Rules the Night
Despite decreases in crime over the past two decades, violence still plagues the North Side of St. Louis, where drugs, poverty, and struggle go hand in hand with gun activity. Some communities have installed surveillance cameras to reduce crime, but monitoring the cameras 24/7 isn't yet possible.

Sex Trafficking Survivor Testifies Before Congress
In a testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee, Rights4Girls board member Withelma Ortiz Walker Pettigrew shared her story of abuse and neglect in foster care, where she was forced into sex trafficking. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 60 percent of children who are reported missing (and who are likely sex trafficking victims) were in foster care or group homes when they first ran away. Ms. Pettigrew encouraged the government to improve the child welfare system, enact protections to prevent youth from experiencing similar situations, and provide trauma-informed services for children who have.

Target Announces 'Ban the Box' Policy
Responding to a new Minnesota law and pressure from a grassroots campaign to reduce employment barriers faced by people with criminal records, the Target Corporation announced it will remove criminal history questions from job applications in Minnesota and throughout the nation. Although 10 states and more than 50 cities have enacted "ban the box" policies, Target is part of a select group of large private employers that has thwarted hiring exclusions preventing people with criminal records from getting work.

Other Resources

Gun Violence Trends in Movies
Results in this Pediatrics study found film violence has more than doubled since 1950, and gun violence in PG-13–rated films has more than tripled since 1985. Even if youth do not use guns, the findings suggest they are exposed to increasing gun violence in top-selling films. The results are concerning because many studies have shown violent films can increase aggression.

New Section on Juvenile Justice Resource Hub
The Juvenile Justice Resource Hub recently added a juvenile indigent defense section. This page features key issues, resources, reform trends, and a list of organizations with expertise on juvenile indigent defense.

Youth Engaged for Change
Youth Engaged 4 Change is an extension of created to encourage young people to shape programs, policies, and services that affect them; promote meaningful partnerships; share federal resources; and connect youth and young adults to opportunities funded by the federal government.

Highlights of the 2011 National Youth Gang Survey
In 2011, there were an estimated 29,900 gangs throughout 3,300 jurisdictions. The number of reported gang-related homicides decreased from 2,020 in 2010 to 1,824 in 2011. Based on law enforcement reports, the survey found the following:
  • Nearly one third of all responding law enforcement agencies reported gang activity
  • Slightly fewer jurisdictions experienced gang activity in 2011 than in 2010
  • Gang activity was concentrated in urban areas, especially larger cities
  • Overall, gang-related homicides declined nationally but fell only slightly in metropolitan areas

Introduction to Positive Youth Development
An updated version of Introduction to Positive Youth Development, a self-paced, online training for staff, is now available. Youth- and family-serving organizations throughout the country and world have used this course from the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth.

New Suicide Prevention Publications Available
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has released nine publications addressing critical program areas and promoting life-saving practices, including effective screening, risk assessment, and drafting of model policies in collaboration with other child-serving agencies.
Contact Us

Send questions or feedback about the newsletter to or subscribe.
The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Newsletter is prepared under Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Cooperative Agreement No. 2012–MU–FX–K009 with Development Services Group, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of OJJDP.