Nancy G. Guerra is a Professor of Clinical/Developmental Psychology at the University of Delaware, and Associate Provost for International Programs. Prior to this, she was a Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Riverside and Director of the Academic Center of Excellence on Youth Violence Prevention funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2000-2011). She is an outgoing Associate Editor of the journal, Child Development, and current editor of Journal of Research on Adolescence. Her work emphasizes translational research focused on understanding and preventing youth aggression and violence, at-risk, vulnerable, and marginalized youth, and integrating positive development and core competencies with prevention of risk behaviors. She has published numerous research articles examining predictors of aggression and has developed and evaluated several preventive interventions. These interventions include the Metropolitan Area Child Study multi-component, school-based program, Viewpoints cognitive-behavioral program for juvenile offenders, Positive Life Changes (PLC) for at-risk youth based on core competencies for risk prevention and positive youth development, and Child Development Parent Training (CDPT), a home visitation program for parents of children and teenagers. She has co-edited several related recent books including Preventing Youth Violence in a Multicultural Society (APA Books, 2005), Treating the Juvenile Offender (Guilford Press, 2008), and Core Competencies to Prevent Problem Behaviors and Promote Positive Youth Development (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Her efforts have involved projects in the U.S. and internationally, including work in Jamaica, Trinidad, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, and Chile. She was recently involved in a multi-year study of individual and community level youth violence and positive youth development programs in Jamaica funded by The World Bank, described in a related publication, Building an Ecology of Peace in Urban Jamaica (2010). She currently works with the Inter-American Development Bank on a randomized controlled trial of El Sistema Children and Youth Orchestra of Venezuela.
Principles of Evidence-based Practice for Youth Violence Prevention: Lessons from Around the World
Although there has been a surge in the popularity of evidence-based programs delivered via "blueprints" or guides that must be followed rigorously, in real-world settings this approach has several limitations. First, evidence-based programs that have been implemented in a few settings may not be applicable in different cultures and under different conditions, particularly in low resource countries and settings. Second, evidence-based programs often are quite costly to purchase and implement. Third, they typically require adherence to specific procedures that may not be feasible, particularly when programs are taken to scale. Fourth, there are many regular activities that youth engage in that have potential benefits for violence prevention and reduction, even though they may not have been evaluated as prevention programs per se. This is not to say that model programs are not useful. They are. Rather, as presented in this talk, it also is important to consider evidence-based principles that can guide program development and that can be used to improve quality of a range of programs with potential for youth violence prevention. Examples across different contexts and from different countries are discussed to illustrate the utility of focusing on evidence-based principles.