FrameWorks Institute Guide Shares Tips for Discussing Community Safety

Posted November 17, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A black man hugs a young black boy; both are looking at the camera, smiling.

Fram­ing Com­mu­ni­ty Safe­ty pro­vides com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers with best prac­tices for explain­ing com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty, the pub­lic health approach to com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty and social deter­mi­nants of health and safe­ty. A prod­uct of Frame­Works Insti­tute, with research sup­port from Pre­ven­tion Insti­tute, the strate­gies out­lined in the new guide are intend­ed to:

  • fos­ter under­stand­ing of the sys­temic roots of violence;
  • cre­ate aware­ness of com­mu­ni­ty-based solu­tions to vio­lence; and
  • increase sup­port for com­mu­ni­ty-based pub­lic health approach­es to ensur­ing health and safety.

Read the guide

How we talk about com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty and vio­lence pre­ven­tion mat­ters because these con­ver­sa­tions direct­ly affect com­mu­ni­ties harmed by vio­lence,” says Pamela Lawrence, direc­tor of Nation­al Com­mu­ni­ty Strate­gies at the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, which fund­ed the guide. This resource offers research-based strate­gies for talk­ing about com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty that pro­mote under­stand­ing, well-being and safety.”

The guide offers three broad rec­om­men­da­tions for part­ners to con­sid­er when dis­cussing com­mu­ni­ty safety:

  1. Define com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty. Com­mu­ni­ca­tors should begin con­ver­sa­tions by defin­ing what com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty is — not what it isn’t. Estab­lish­ing this def­i­n­i­tion at the begin­ning of a dis­cus­sion allows com­mu­ni­ca­tors to dis­pel assump­tions or neg­a­tive stereo­types. The guide also advis­es against using over­ly tech­ni­cal terms and sug­gests incor­po­rat­ing plain lan­guage into conversations.
  2. Clear­ly explain the pub­lic health approach” to com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty. Mes­sen­gers should empha­size how this approach uses the sci­en­tif­ic method to address the root caus­es of vio­lence and is an alter­na­tive to increased polic­ing, which can cause harm to Black and Lati­no com­mu­ni­ties. Unlike puni­tive approach­es to com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty, pub­lic health approach­es are also more mind­ful of indi­vid­u­als who strug­gle with men­tal health or who are in cri­sis by con­nect­ing them with the help and resources they need.
  3. Name and explain social deter­mi­nants.” Com­mu­ni­ca­tors should define the con­di­tions of inequal­i­ty that dri­ve com­mu­ni­ty vio­lence. These can include: 
    • bar­ri­ers to access­ing qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion or employment;
    • envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors, such as expo­sure to lead in paint or water; or
    • a lack of invest­ment in com­mu­ni­ty hous­ing and businesses.

The guide also rec­om­mends high­light­ing how inequities can lead to dis­par­i­ties in safe­ty for Black and Lati­no communities.

To inform its work, Frame­Works drew on media arti­cles and orga­ni­za­tion­al pub­li­ca­tions to iden­ti­fy com­mon nar­ra­tives about com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty and the issue of crime in neigh­bor­hoods. The orga­ni­za­tion also ana­lyzed its own research on crim­i­nal jus­tice as well as Pre­ven­tion Institute’s inter­views with staff and young peo­ple who were engaged in com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty efforts.

Learn how an ini­tia­tive is help­ing young Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans reduce com­mu­ni­ty violence

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