Youth Violence in Urban Environments : The Memory Project


Youth violence is not a problem of individual choices, but a culmination of several factors within the social ecology that come together to create conditions that perpetrate these acts of violence fraying the very core of a healthy social fabric. The research project positions itself in a time when gun violence in urban environments and race relations across the US are under rigorous scrutiny. Nationally, the incident in Minneapolis with George Floyd and more recently the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in a South Georgia neighborhood has created a catalytic moment that is forcing us to look at the issue of race by re-examining factors that hold us all together as a community. The research focused on the City of South Bend, Indiana, outlines three strong assertions that emerge from the research: firstly, that mothers are crucial to the mitigation of youth violence in a community. Mothers play significant roles in creating a strong social fabric within marginalized societies. Mothers that create structured and predictive environments around their families help mitigate the chances of youth getting involved with violence. Secondly, the lack of structure, consistency, predictability, and regularity in daily routines emerge as one of the key factors leading youth towards violence and thirdly, the absence of positive reinforcers/role models in the lives of youth does not provide them with coping strategies, especially when confronted with challenges. Based upon these assertions the paper presents design interventions and their evaluation and assessment for mitigating this violence in the community of South Bend.


Neeta Verma
Associate Professor, Art, Art History, & Design, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society


Social Design, Youth violence, Problem framing, Social ecologies, Social innovation

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