Prevention Programs and Technology

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Firearm violence prevention programs are disseminated widely in U.S.

public school systems to children ages 5 to 18, and safety technologies have

been suggested as an alternative means to prevent firearm injuries. The

actual effects of a particular prevention program on violence and injury,

however, have been little studied and are difficult to predict. For children,

firearm violence education programs may result in increases in the very

behaviors they are designed to prevent, by enhancing the allure of guns for

young children and by establishing a false norm of gun-carrying for adolescents.

Likewise, even if perfectly reliable, technology that serves to reduce

injury among some groups may lead to increased deviance or risk among

others.

The committee found little scientific basis for understanding the effects

of different prevention programs on the rates of firearm injuries. Generally,

there has been scant funding for evaluation of these programs. For the few

that have been evaluated, there is little empirical evidence of positive effects

on children’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. Likewise, the extent

to which different technologies affect injuries remains unknown. Often,

the literature is entirely speculative. In other cases, for example the

empirical evaluations of child access prevention (CAP) laws, the empirical

literature reveals conflicting estimates that are difficult to reconcile.

In light of the lack of evidence, the committee recommends that firearm

violence prevention programs should be based on general prevention theory,

that government programs should incorporate evaluation into implementation

efforts, and that a sustained body of empirical research be developed to

study the effects of different safety technologies on violence and crime.