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Social media is the new space of conflict, as youth involved in gun violence use it as an extension of their daily lives. Often, crew-involved youth use social media to taunt and threaten rivals, share criminal activity, freely discuss shootings and past violence, buy and sell weapons, engage in arguments, and express grief and emotional distress. Such behavior amplifies and accelerates conflicts, resulting in real-world shootings and murders.
Working with our NYC Cure Violence partners and researchers at New York University, the Crime Commission created E-Responder, a multi-tiered approach designed to prevent the escalation of violence on social media and facilitate healthy expression by building on youths' strengths and skills to promote long-term growth and development.
E-Responder was designed to reach youth in new, virtual spaces, and takes an evidence-based approach to addressing three key goals:
Training in E-Responder is effective for any organization that works closely with young people. To inquire about E-Responder training, please email our Director of Violence Prevention, Stephanie Ueberall, at firstname.lastname@example.org
E-Responder was piloted for six months at five anti-violence organizations across NYC. Results show that anti-violence professionals trained in E-Responder were significantly more likely to identify a risky post that could lead to violence, and were more effective in their intervention. Such effective interventions had significantly more positive outcomes for youth, such as de-escalation of the conflict or building emotional management skills.
Results from the pilot also show that youth who participated in the Youth Leadership Program were significantly more confident in their ability to use social media responsibly. Further, those who participated in the Youth Leadership Program showed increases in both empathic concern and perspective taking, two skills that have been closely linked with decreased violence in the research literature. (Sichel, C.E., Javdani, S., Ueberall, S. & Liggett, R. (in press). Leveraging Youth's Digital Literacies: The E-Responder Social Media Violence Interruption Model and Pilot Evaluation. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community.)
The success of E-Responder illuminates a larger need to bridge technology and crime prevention. The Crime Commission seeks to enhance E-Responder with a new application, called F.A.S.T.™, which will analyze Facebook posts in real-time and immediately send an alert to a trained anti-violence professional when posts contain language shown to have a high risk for potential violence.
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