Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-30-2016


Clark University, Mosakowski Institute, Community violence assessment, practitioner-academic partnership, early childhood trauma, action research


Problem analysis conducted by a university-based research partner can provide communities with data-driven options to address the local drivers of serious youth and gang violence. Situated in Worcester, Massachusetts, this article describes how after early childhood trauma was identified as a potential driver of adolescent and young adult violence, problem analysis using local data confirmed that being the victim or witness of a traumatic incident before the age of 12 was significantly correlated with involvement in violence in adolescence or young adulthood. While there is a robust literature on the relationship between early childhood trauma and later delinquency, local decision-makers did not consider this knowledge actionable until the research partner used the city’s own police records to demonstrate the extent of the problem in the city. Rigorous problem analysis, conducted collaboratively between practitioners and an academic research partner, helped to compel local change and ensured that strategies addressed the right risk factors and directed service to the appropriate target population.