The Boston Defending Childhood Initiative targeted three neighborhoods in Boston with the highest rates of violence, poverty, and other disparities with increased programming to help curb the violence and support those who are affected by it. Boston Public Health Commission partnered with the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center to lead the Boston Defending Childhood Initiative. Since 2010, over 60 diverse organizations and agencies have come together to help create and implement an action plan to prevent and reduce the impact of exposure to violence in homes, schools, and communities for children aged 0 to 17 years old. The program’s core strategies included:
- Prevention through training and capacity building for mental health providers, early child care and education systems, and shelter providers and residents on the impact of violence and trauma on children and how to support and promote resilience in children.
- Intervention by strengthening families with the support of community organizations that implement evidence based, family nurturing programs, engaging youth through social media that promotes healthy relationships and prevents violence, and providing evidence based direct services for children exposed to violence.
- Data collection that improves our understanding of children’s exposure to violence.
- Policy advocacy that promotes trauma-informed systems and institutional change.