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Can Online Interventions Deter Offline Violence?

Published: in Crime news 18+ by .

According to a new report from the Council on Criminal Justice, “offline altercations” are increasingly triggered by conflicts that begin on social media.

The  “robust” use of social media should be part of anti-violence efforts in troubled neighborhoods across the country, says the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ).

According to a new report from the council’s Working Group on Violent Crime, “offline altercations are increasingly triggered by online conflicts.”

“Cyber- or ‘internet-banging’ happens when individuals or groups taunt, insult, challenge, and threaten each other on social media, resulting in violent encounters in real life,” the report said, adding that gang members use social networks to boast about violence and plan criminal activities.

Citing a growing body of research, the working group said a full understanding of the reasons for the rise in community gun violence should acknowledge how social media influences young people at the highest risk for becoming involved in crime and violence.

The working group acknowledged that understanding the links between violent crime and social media was “still in its early stages,” but said it was critical to address the problem now.

“Practitioners in the field cannot wait,” the report said. “Consistent with laws concerning civil rights and liberties, every anti-violence effort should have a robust online component.”

The report added: “There is emerging evidence that using social media can, for example, significantly enhance the efforts of street outreach workers in violent neighborhoods “when coupled with close, trusting relationships with youth.”

But social media companies should also take responsibility for curbing the use of their platforms as a conduit for violence, the working group said.

“Social media platforms themselves can and should do more to regulate content that may lead to violent conflict,” the CCJ said.

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The working group analyzed the role of social media as part of a larger discussion aimed at understanding the roots of violent crime.

The group called for studies that assess concrete strategies to reduce offline and online violence.

“To date, there are no interventions to address this specific challenge that have been rigorously evaluated,” the report said.

Presenters at the meeting were Thomas Abt, Senior Fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice, and Vaughn Crandall, Co-Director of the California Partnership for Safe Communities. The social media discussion included a presentation from Molly Baldwin, CEO and founder of the urban violence-reduction organization Roca, Inc.

Additional Reading:

DOJ Funds Backed Monitoring Chicago Students’ Social Media, The Crime Report, Feb 12, 2019

How NYC Fights Gang Violence Via Social Media, The Crime Report, Feb. 6, 2017

A full report of the CCJ working group meeting can be downloaded here.

Source: The Crime Report

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