Profile No. 47

Calling the Shots -- St. Paul, MN

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Education program to change attitudes about guns and violence.

Program Goal:
To show the consequences of gun violence.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
At-risk youth.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN.

Evaluated by:
Health Partners Research Foundation, St. Paul, MN.

Contact Information:
Valerie Miller, Program Coordinator
Region's Hospital
640 Jackson Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651­228­2473

Years of Operation:

Region's Hospital in St. Paul, MN, developed an antiviolence education program for at-risk youth and youth already involved in the criminal justice system. Participants are referred through St. Paul's juvenile probation and corrections departments, schools, and mentoring organizations. The Juvenile Gun Program in Minneapolis, which is operated by the Juvenile Probation Department (see profile 44), regularly refers youth adjudicated on gun charges to this program.

The hospital uses actors and actual trauma unit personnel to dramatize, in a 4-hour program, a realistic emergency room situation involving a gunshot victim in a level 1 trauma center. Participants receive an introductory lecture on trauma resuscitation for all types of trauma victims. While the group is receiving training in trauma resuscitation equipment, a gunshot victim (a teenage actor) is suddenly brought into the emergency room by an ambulance and four paramedics from the city of St. Paul Fire Emergency Medical Services division. The youth are recruited to work on the "patient" with a real team of doctors. The team cuts his clothing off and clears his airway, but the victim dies because a second wound to the back of the head is overlooked. The hospital chaplain then announces that the victim's family is waiting in the family room, and the participants have to accompany him to tell the family the news. The youth then meet with a counselor to discuss what they have seen. They talk about their feelings and are told that what they just witnessed was not real, but a realistic portrayal of daily emergency room occurrences.

An internal evaluation of the program was conducted by Health Partners Research Foundation in September 1997. It used a randomized, prospective study design with a control group. The Attitudes Toward Guns and Violence Questionnaire (AGVQ), developed by Applewood Centers, Inc., was administered 2 weeks prior to and after the program intervention. A total of 212 youth were recruited for the study, but through attrition and invalidations due to inconsistencies in subject answers, only 73 test pairs were available for analysis. Of the four factors measured by the AGVQ (excitement, power/safety, comfort with aggression, and aggressive response to shame), one factor (comfort with aggression) showed a marked decrease, indicating the subjects became more disturbed about violence in the environment, had less respect for violent individuals, and had more confidence in the effectiveness of nonviolent problem-solving behaviors. The researchers believe that with a larger number of subjects, statistical significance would have been achieved. According to the program, counselors and staff from referring agencies have observed positive effects on the youth. The hospital is planning to expand the program to other major cities

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Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence OJJDP Report