Violence Against Children Initiative — Applied Research Class Project, 2009–10

Students in the course Applied Research in Children's Studies used innovative methods to study youth-on-youth violence in spring 2010. As part of the Children's Studies Violence Against Children initiative, students planned and executed a study that addressed the high number of after-school fights that abound in Brooklyn's at-risk neighborhoods. The class studied several theories behind the causes of youth violence, focusing on an ecological perspective that explains the violence as a result of individual and environmental factors. With this knowledge in hand, students designed a project that explored the ways student and community attitudes contribute to a culture of after-school violence. The class conducted more than 60 semi-structured interviews with youth and adult community members from Brooklyn, using youth interviewing techniques covered in the course. With results in hand, students are now in the process of analyzing the data and fortifying the theoretical and practical understanding of youth-on-youth violence in at-risk communities. Such an applied and innovative course increases participants' interest, knowledge and experience working on behalf of children. At the same time, the children's studies students are helping make real progress in reducing violence against children.