What is Violence Prevention?
Violence can occur on multiple levels, and not just physical violence. Economic, social and political violence all contribute to a cycle of violence that occurs with individuals, families and communities. Homies Unidos recognizes that this cycle of violence is not the disease itself, rather a symptom of larger social, cultural and economic inequalities that occur locally and globally. If we treat both the symptom and the cause of the disease, then it is possible to create a peaceful healthy society.
The Center for Disease control lists multiple risk factors that contribute to youth violence for amongst individuals and families including:
- Exposure to violence and conflict in the family
- Low parental involvement
- Poor behavioral control
- Harsh, lax, or inconsistent disciplinary practices
- Poor monitoring and supervision of children
- Involvement in gangs and lack of alternate positive activities.
Primary Prevention occurs when we work to address these factors before they result in violence, incarceration, injury or death. In the case of Homies Unidos, we believe that primary prevention happens in the home with families and in schools with students. Through the Epiphany Project, we work to address the above risk factors by working with youth and their parents to create stronger lines of communication and consistency of boundaries, develop coping skills that allow youth to resolve conflict without violence, and encouraging them to engage in their environment and community productively.
Intervention means that one take action to improve an existing bad situation. Homies Unidos is in a unique position to intervene and curtail the troubles of “at-risk” youth through leadership roles because we were once “at-risk” ourselves.
Oftentimes, youth have already become involved in violent lifestyles that affect them, their families and the community. After experiencing the consequences a life of violence, such as incarceration, physical, emotional and domestic violence, they desire to change their lives and escape the cycle of violence. Other times they experience life-changing events, such as having a child or losing a loved one. Homies Unidos provides intervention in the form of the Epiphany Project and tattoo removal services. The Epiphany Project serves as a springboard to self-reflection, anger management. If individuals have tattoos that are related to gang lifestyle or domestic violence, Homies Unidos will pay for the tattoo removal sessions upon completion of the Epiphany Project. By providing tattoo removal to youth involved in gangs, they can safely transition out of the gang lifestyle, apply for employment and walk the streets without feeling the stigma of the tattoos. Ana, one of our tattoo removal clients, described the process of removing her tattoos as shedding an identity, a mask, and to be able to walk down the street without receiving stares or feeling judged.