The Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress, in collaboration with New Lens Productions, worked with groups of youth who experienced community violence firsthand. These young people aimed to become part of the solution to end community violence through the creation of two short films about violence prevention.

These films were created BY the youth and FOR the youth, with the intention that the films would be shared to spread the message that there are ways to prevent violence.

Over the course of two multi-week groups, one for middle school students and one for high school students, the youth shared their stories with one another, describing loved ones lost to violence and their own struggles after witnessing violence in their communities.

Through discussion and interactive activities, these young people worked together first to strengthen their own coping and safety skills. Together, group members selected what aspect of community violence they wanted to focus on. Each group chose very different approaches. The middle school group focused on violence and abuse more generally, while the high school group focused specifically on gun violence. With their topics chosen, group members learned about how to use the medium of film to send a strong message about preventing violence. Young people were in the driver’s seat throughout the filming process and were involved in creating all of the content in the films.

Middle School Video - Break the Chain

High School Video - B'more Loving

One of the most powerful parts of this project is that it is both an intervention and a prevention model. As a group therapy intervention, this project provided space for young people to come together and support one another in coping with the impact violence has had in their lives.

Community violence can create feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness, but in these groups young people connected with one another to help make meaning out of the violence they experienced by speaking out to show that change is possible.

For more information about the project, please contact Sara Davis at