Dr. Linda Malone-Colon, dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Hampton University and formerly chair of its psychology department, has devoted much of her career to initiatives that help strengthen African American families and marriages. She’s currently serving as a principal investigator of the Hampton University-Howard University Men’s Violence Prevention Program which has afforded students the opportunity to assist with all facets of research and interventions.
Funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Hampton University-Howard University Men’s Violence Prevention Program is a strength-based, culturally relevant, and family-centered violence prevention program for African males, ages 12 to 25, who reside in Hampton or Newport News, VA, or Washington, DC (where Howard is located). The program aims to help young men avoid violence and become healthy, self-sufficient, productive members of society. Ultimately the goal is to develop a national model of violence prevention that can be applied to other minority populations affected by violence.
In addition to Dr. Malone-Colon, co-principal Investigators for the project include faculty from sociology and journalism. Therefore Hampton students assisting with the project have come from those two disciplines and psychology. Working together, the students assisted with a literature reviews to determine which skills, strengths, resources, supports or coping strategies (known as protective factors) eliminated the risk of violence in young African American men. The students also joined the PIs for meetings with an advisory council, which includes mayors, and the partnership team which includes front-line workers such as police officers.
“It’s important for students to understand the process of developing a community-based intervention program as well as how to input and analyze data,” said Dr. Malone-Colon.
Students also assisted in curriculum development and some serve as student mentors for the pilot program which began in November. The five-month program brings approximately 60 young men from challenging backgrounds who are at high-risk for violence to Hampton’s campus each week. The two- hour sessions include interactive discussions and interventions that are meant to enhance protective factors in these young men. They also focus on issues such as self-esteem, social support, problem solving, anger management and conflict resolution. Also, Hampton journalism students are working with study participants to develop video PSAs of their experiences.
Visiting a college campus is part of the experience. Participants occasionally visit other areas of campus. They may watch a movie in the student center or check out the on-campus bowling alley and fitness center with Hampton student-athletes.
This summer students will help with the next phase of the study, an analysis of preliminary data to determine if interventions reduced the rate of violent attitudes and changed behavioral inclinations and whether program modules need to be adjusted for future groups.
In addition to the Hampton University-Howard University Men’s Violence Prevention Program, Dr. Malone-Colon’s students also worked with her on another community-based study regarding African American marriages, helping to develop and administer a survey for 200 couples. The data will help investigators examine how spiritual attitudes, behaviors and beliefs affect the quality of African American marriages.
“We want students to have all the knowledge and skills they need to be strong scholars in their particular disciplines, but we’re also trying to give students a kind of heart and desire to use their knowledge and skills to uplift their communities, our country and the global community,” said Dr. Malone-Colon. “These types of programs where we’re out in the community and have students engaged in solving some of the most pressing societal problems and global issues we have, we think are just really valuable experiences for our students.”