Spotlight on Research
Chapin Hall is developing and implementing the VISA initiative (Violence Inquest for Solutions and Alliances). VISA is one of 12 projects that make up the Community Anti-Violence and Restoration Effort (CARE), an effort undertaken by the City of Chicago and Cook County in collaboration to improve public safety.
The VISA initiative aims to enhance coordination and communication among agencies that provide support to youth in Chicago—especially youth most at risk for being a victim of violence and/or committing an act of violence. Rates of gun violence involving Chicago youth are among the highest in the country. During calendar year 2011, 707 young people age 18 and under were shot, and 83 (12%) were killed. Almost 20% of those shooting victims were on probation at the time they were shot.
VISA has several components. One component, referred to as the Chicago Youth Shooting Review, involves reviewing specific incidents of fatal and nonfatal shootings in Chicago among young people. These shooting reviews are conducted to develop a more nuanced understanding of trends and how policies and procedures in criminal justice and related systems could be improved to support ongoing public safety efforts. The reviews yield recommendations developed by policy experts from many areas of the system at different levels (city, county, state, and federal).
There is no simple, single answer to solving the problem of youth gun violence. The problem is multiply determined and requires coordinated efforts across many systems. The essential component of a comprehensive effort to address the problem of youth violence is information that can be used to better inform prevention and intervention strategies and aid in targeting scarce resources. The majority of youth involved in gun violence, both victims and perpetrators, have come into contact with multiple city, county, and state agencies. As a result, Chapin Hall researchers are using administrative datasets from various agencies to highlight context-specific factors that contribute to violence and victimization. Representatives from agencies such as the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Public Schools, the Office of Juvenile Probation, and the Department of Family Support Services are working on this initiative.