University of Nebraska Medical Center

Public Health Community Advisory

Violence Prevention in Omaha Youth: An Overview of Dr. Melissa Tibbits’s Research

Youth violence is an important but often overlooked threat to public health. Nationally, homicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24, and among youth homicide victims, almost 90% were killed by a firearm. Further, in Omaha in the past year over 100 injuries from firearms were treated at The Nebraska Medical Center. Nearly 30% of these patients were under 19 years of age.

With these facts in mind, Dr. Lina Lander, Department of Epidemiology, and Dr. Melissa Tibbits, Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health, have initiated a new research project funded by the Omaha Community Foundation Violence Reduction Fund and the College of Public Health aimed at better understanding the most salient risk factors for youth violence in Omaha. The findings from this project will be used to inform the development of preventive interventions aimed at decreasing youth violence.

In the first phase of the project, researchers will examine hospital records from the trauma centers at The Nebraska Medical Center and the Creighton University Medical Center in order to understand trends in gun-related injuries among youth in Omaha. This will shed light on demographic characteristics, such as age, race/ethnicity, and gender, associated with youth violence, as well as the role of factors such as substance use. In the second phase of the project, researchers will work with youth who have been involved in violent incidents in order to better understand the community, family, social, and individual factors that are commonly associated with youth violence in Omaha.

In order to avoid duplication of efforts and provide the most useful information for the Omaha community, Drs. Lander and Tibbits are working with Jannette Taylor of Impact One and other community leaders to better understand the services being provided to prevent youth violence, as well as the data that are currently collected about risk factors for violence in Omaha. Shedding light on the multilevel risk factors for youth violence in Omaha will allow for the development of community appropriate, comprehensive preventive interventions aimed at reducing these risk factors.

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