Increasing the Role of Faith Leaders in Violence Prevention

Cody Stephens, University of Illinois at Chicago
Norman Livingston Kerr, University of Illinois at Chicago
Gary Slutkin, Chicago Proj. for Violence Preven, UICl

In 1977, 70 Chicago faith leaders led by Francis Cardinal George, in collaboration with the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, founded the Religious Leadership Taskforce. The purpose of the Taskforce was to bolster faith leaders' participation in CeaseFire violence prevention activities. Taskforce faith leaders pledged to engage in violence prevention activities to reduce shooting and killings in their communities such as exhorting their congregations to participate in violence prevention activities (e.g., responses to shootings), organizing and conducting night marches and vigils, and offering safe havens to youth.

A study was done comparing anti-violence activities of Taskforce members and other Faith Leaders matched by neighborhood. Questions were posed to 55 Taskforce members, and 83 non-Taskforce members. Taskforce members were significantly more likely to engage in violence prevention activities such as organizing walks and vigils (80% vs. 31%**), offering youth activities (89% vs. 61%**), gang mediation (33% vs. 17%*), and distributing violence pfevention materials (73% vs. 46%**). Preliminary analysis suggests that collaboration enhances faith leaders commitment to anti-violence activities.

*p <.05 **p <.01

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Updated 05/20/2006