The UTC Center for Applied Social Research (CASR) recently conducted research for the Chattanooga Gang Assessment, a comprehensive community assessment that provides the foundation for a full community approach to gang abatement.
“UTC’s specific role through the CASR was to conduct the Student and School Component of the Assessment,” according to Dr. Barbara Medley, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of CASR. “This Component included a survey of over 5,000 middle and high school students from 13 schools throughout the county, 800 Hamilton County Schools teachers, administrators, and staff, and nine focus groups with school personnel and parents.”
UTC’s Center for Applied Social Research (CASR) partnered with the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies to conduct the assessment.
“The decision to be part of this project was directly tied to UTC’s mission as an engaged metropolitan university, and in this capacity, its responsibility as an institution is to be responsive to critical community issues such as gangs,” said Medley, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of CASR.
The Gang Assessment Project was funded by the City of Chattanooga, with additional funding support to UTC from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.
Medley described several of the most important recommendations to come from the School Component thus far:
- Both students and school employees felt strongly that gang deterrence requires a diverse, proactive agenda that includes innovative programs that meet a wide range of student interests and needs, including entrepreneurial and job-skills oriented programs.
- There is a need to increase the number of counselors and resource officers in the schools, whose primary role is working with students to address their problems and needs.
- Programs and initiatives need to be developed that can strengthen families and parenting.
- The long-standing issue of poverty in core areas of Chattanooga must be addressed, particularly as to how it can be reduced more effectively through jobs and educational initiatives.