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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Harvard: Can Tearing Down Abandoned Buildings Reduce Gun Violence?

It’s possible that removing blighted structures from neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence could help reduce shootings, according to a new study in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

Researchers led by Dr. Jonathan Jay, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, looked at neighborhoods in Detroit by U.S. Census block group and found that razing five abandoned buildings was linked with an 11 percent reduction in firearms assaults over the following 14 months.

The presence of abandoned buildings may make residents feel there’s a lack of social control in the neighborhood, which may then lead to violence, according to the authors. They theorized that, once the blighted buildings are gone, residents’ perception of the neighborhood may improve.

“This study highlights our ability to prevent gun violence by improving neighborhood conditions in straightforward ways,” Dr. Jay said in a July 31 article in Newsweek.

Senior author of the study was Dr. David Hemenway, professor of health policy.

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