Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: A Framework for Addressing and Preventing Community Trauma

View Resource

Many communities are working to prevent violence and promote community safety and, through comprehensive, multi-sector actions, are making progress. However, communities that experience high rates of violence continue to be plagued with persistently high rates of trauma. Trauma and its associated symptoms of mental and psychological illness are more prevalent in the U.S. than in most other countries in the world. What’s more, trauma can be a barrier to the most successful implementation of healing and well-being strategies, including those to prevent violence.

The impact of trauma extends beyond the individuals who directly witness or experience violence. Trauma is also produced by structural violence, which prevents people and communities from meeting their basic needs. The result is both high levels of trauma across the population and a breakdown of social networks, social relationships and positive social norms across the community — all of which could otherwise be protective against violence and other health outcomes. While new models are emerging to counter the effects of trauma, promote community healing and foster community resilience, there has not been an existing framework for understanding, addressing and preventing trauma at a community or population level. Our paper provides one.

Authors: Howard Pinderhughes, Ph.D. Rachel A. Davis, M.S.W. Myesha Williams, M.S.W.

Published by: Kaiser Permanente and The Prevention Institute