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Reducing Violence: Issues, Options, and Opportunities for State Governments

Community Needs & Challenges


Ellen Connorton, M.S.W., Violence Prevention Initiative/Intentional Injury Control Coordinator, Violence Prevention/Injury Control Program, Bureau of Family and Community Health, Division of Prevention, Boston, MA.

Tony Pettaway, Violence Prevention Coordinator, Department of Health and Human Services, City of Springfield, MA.

Ellen Connorton and Tony Pettaway offered the audience a greater understanding of how local communities and State agencies should work together to promote the reduction of violence throughout their States. They stated that the State of Massachusetts has developed an effective relationship with the City of Springfield that has helped to facilitate successful and nationally recognized violence prevention programs.

Massachusetts has had a unique opportunity to provide services and assistance with violence, and the commitment to the reduction of violence in the State has been embraced by the State leadership. This commitment facilitated an improved ability to become involved at the local level.

For local communities looking to implement violence prevention programs, the Massachusetts Department of Health has provided:

  • Community organizing support.
  • Surveillance data collection.
  • Data analysis.
  • Understanding of data limitations.
  • Technical assistance.

Springfield's violence prevention office works with the State to promote grassroots programs and to enhance services. For example, Springfield's gun safety program focuses on:

  • Safe storage of handguns.
  • Importance of trigger locks.
  • Increased promotion of gun safety education.

Since its initiation, this program has given away more than 5,000 trigger locks and has gained national recognition as a "SafeCities Partner."

Mr. Pettaway emphasized that an effective relationship requires a commitment to partnering and collaboration, as well as communication and sharing of information between State and local agencies.


Kellerman AL, et al. Preventing Youth Violence: What Works? Ann Rev Public Health 1998;19:271-92.

Price JH, Oden L. Reducing Firearm Injuries: The Role of Local Public Health Departments. Public Health Rep 1999;114:533-9.

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