Colorado researchers say preventing violence starts at community level

Researchers at CU are researching just this.

KUSA - Researchers at the University of Colorado say there's a deeper solution to violence.

It could take years to take effect, but they say with some patience, it could be the best answer to preventing horrible events in the future.

The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence started at CU in 1992. After the Columbine shooting in 1999, the center proposed a program called Safe-2-Tell. It's a service that allows students and teachers at Colorado schools to anonymously report suspicious activity to the Colorado Attorney General's office.

The center's director, Beverly Kingston, says that's one of the easiest ways people can help prevent acts of violence.

"If you have a bad feeling about [something], would you know who you would call and what you would do about it?" said Kingston. "All of us can do that...Everybody can be an active bystander...that's number one."

Safe-2-Tell has an app and a phone number you can call

But it's not the only or even the center's main solution in preventing violence. Kingston and the center's researchers are studying ways school programs can focus on students' mental health.

"We really need to look at the root causes of these social issues," Kingston said. "The only way I think that we can truly prevent them is to have to prevent a lot of problem behavior."

Kingston says supporting students early on when they're still developing, is crucial to determining problem behavior. She says talking to students and establishing a supportive community could decrease violence tremendously.

"There's a lot of hurting people in our society," Kingston said. "If you can get people the support that they need as early as possible it could prevent future violence."

The center works with 46 middle schools in the front range. It's done randomized control studies that Kingston says prove the programs work. 

The issue is funding and patience. School programs can be costly, and the return on investment could take a while.

"When we talk about a community change, it's decades. It's not a one year solution," Kingston said. "It's going to be hard work to really flip the way the system works."

The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at CU is working to promote these programs to schools across Colorado. Kingston hopes it takes hold nationally.

"I believe one day we will really rally around these programs. We can be watching out for what's going on in our own communities and families," Kingston said. "We really do know what works. And we need to do a better job of getting that out there."

Kingston stressed that this kind of change does take time. In the short term, she encourages using Safe-2-Tell and making sure to say something if you see something.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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