Methods: Both pilot programs included a six week training program to build residents' skills in collective efficacy. Sixteen adults participated in the first program, and 24 youth and adults participated in the second program. Self-report measures developed for both programs examined collective efficacy (social cohesion/trust and willingness to intervene in neighborhood problems), informal social control, and likelihood, attitudes and confidence in intervening, and community involvement. Additional measures were developed for the second project, including youth community involvement, skills in intervening, social capital, and crime related measures (fear of crime and perceived community problems). Measures were taken before and after the training program, and then after the community project for the second program.
Results: Results from the first project demonstrated that residents were more likely to intervene in neighborhood problems, and more likely to use direct, non-violent intervention (informal social control), including approaching the individuals involved in the transgressions in a respectful manner (Ohmer, Warner, & Beck, in press). They also improved their attitudes about intervening, feeling it was appropriate to intervene and their neighborhood was safer if residents intervened in problem behaviors. However, residents did not improve their level of community involvement, nor their confidence in intervening. While the training was successful, the researchers believed that the training alone was not sufficient to build and sustain collective efficacy in disadvantaged communities. The results of the first program were used to inform the structure, methods and measures used in the second program. The second pilot used community organizing strategies to engage the community over a year long period, refined the training curriculum based on community input, engaged both youth and adults, and worked with participants after the training to develop a crime prevention project.
Implications: This presentation demonstrates the importance of developing community level initiatives that are grounded in prior research. Established theories about how change occurs in neighborhoods can be used to develop pilot interventions that test and further refine their premises. Despite the difficulties posed, social workers can develop measures that examine the effectiveness of community level interventions and can use the results of pilot studies to inform future initiatives. ves.