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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Northwestern: Study Indicates Peer Influence, Social Networks Might Be Leveraged to Aid Gun Violence Reduction Efforts

A new Northwestern University study found that a program aimed at reducing gun violence in Chicago, the Violence Reduction Strategy (VRS), deterred about 100 victimizations over a two-year period.

VRS is a program that seeks to lower rates of gun violence in typically high-crime areas. The program seeks to do so by inviting participants with heightened risk of victimization to participate in a meeting known as a “call-in.”

At the call-in, a collaborative group of criminal justice agencies, service providers and community members discuss the risk of victimization and the damage caused by gun violence to communities. The participants also may be referred or given information about local social service programs. Part of the program’s design is that those invited to the call-in would hopefully carry this message back to those in their own social networks.

“In the study, we examined whether VRS reduced gunshot victimization among participants,” said Dr. George Wood, first author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research and the Northwestern Neighborhood & Network Initiative. “We also evaluated the effect of VRS on the social peers of participants. While these peers did not participate in the program, they had social contact with a participant and may, therefore, have been affected by the program through spillover effects.”

The study, “Reducing gunshot victimization in high-risk social networks through direct and spillover effects,” was published Aug. 19 in Nature Human Behaviour.

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