As we started running MedCEEP’s Emergency Preparedness Workshops, over and over, we noticed something: the students wanted to talk about the violence they had witnessed or experienced and the resultant trauma. Our program aims to prevent, manage, and promote recovery from trauma and increase youth engagement in violence prevention programs and services. One way we do this is by extending violence prevention services from the hospital setting to pre-hospital settings such as schools or other community settings. In fact, studies show that school-based violence prevention programs are associated with reductions in violent behavior at all grade levels. Effective violence prevention approaches help build resilience and enhance protective factors to overcome social and environmental stressors. These evidence-based approaches include encouraging participation in peer groups, school activities, and communities that emphasize positive social norms; providing supportive relationships with adults; and enhancing competence in cognitive, social, and emotional skills. TRAP Violence incorporates these resilience-building strategies.
We are currently offering single-day workshops, during which youth are introduced to workshop facilitators (behavioral health counselors, clinical social workers, violence recovery specialists, and trauma/emergency room physicians) via a 30-minute icebreaker. A presentation is given by a facilitator; often the subject is suggested by the school based on recent interactions between youth. Participants then break into small groups to discuss how they would respond to common scenarios that lead to violent outcomes. A student spokesperson is selected by each small group to summarize relevant techniques proposed by students, as well as resources suggested by their facilitator. The facilitators then close out with summarized take-home learning objectives and evidence-based resources for mental health crisis response, community safety techniques, and conflict mitigation skills. Mental health professionals are present during all sessions for students who may become triggered by content.
We are planning to launch a longitudinal TRAP Violence Training Program, which will consist of eight workshops spanning a 12-month period with a single cohort, each on a different subject. Each of these sessions begins with a presentation followed by violence mitigation skills practice guided by the presenter and facilitators. Mental health professionals will be present during all sessions to provide free, acute, onsite therapy for students who may become triggered by content. Workshop themes will include: