By: Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships
From June 2 to June 4, DHS’s new Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) hosted its 7th Digital Forum on Prevention Through Health and Well-Being. This virtual event focused on the public health approach to prevention through evidence, data, technology, and threat assessment and management teams. The Forum hosted over 500 attendees across three days of panels and workshops, and invited professionals from public health, social services, mental and behavioral health, civil organizations, education, academia, state and local agencies, and other prevention sectors to discuss the public health approach to prevention.
Figure 1: Graph of sector attendance percentages at the Digital Forum
The public health approach to violence prevention has been used for over 40 years since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified violence prevention as a public health concern. The public health approach encompasses defining the problem of targeted violence and terrorism, identifying risks and protective factors that aid in the prevention, developing and testing prevention strategies, and sharing successful models, based on logic models and theory of change to violence reduction.
This was the third Digital Forum held virtually. The first all-virtual Digital Forum was hosted in September 2020, and the second was hosted in March and focused on online gaming and e-sports.
This Digital Forum kicked off with three keynote addresses that highlighted the importance of the public health approach and working across multidisciplinary sectors and the impact and role of technology to targeted violence and terrorism prevention. Speakers included the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) Chief, Dr. Lina Alathari, Richard Aborn from the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, and co-founder of Moonshot, Vidhya Ramalingam.
Keynotes were followed by panel discussion lead by Brette Steele, Senior Director of Preventing Targeted Violence at the McCain Institute. Panelists discussed the public health approach to violence prevention, including key successes and implementation models across violence prevention programs, the components of multidisciplinary threat assessment and management teams, the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions, and different models of success across the United States. Panelists also discussed the impact and use of technology and the online environment, particularly the use of social media analysis in threat assessment and management.
Day one concluded with two afternoon workshops. The first workshop was hosted by a lead researcher at NTAC that presented a detailed overview of research findings and data on averting targeted school violence. NTAC is hosting an encore event of the presentation on June 30. The second workshop was hosted by the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Behavioral Threat Assessment Center (BTAC), Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), on law enforcement agencies and public health practitioners working together to create trusted relationships across multidisciplinary threat assessment and management teams.
The Forum’s second day featured a panel that discussed the impact and use of technology to individual health and well-being. The session, moderated by David Ryan Polgar from All Tech is Human, discussed a variety of online harms that intersect with health and well-being. The session focused on how technology is helping to provide mental health services to support well-being and address the potential risk factors of violent extremism and targeted violence. Panelists shared lessons learned from suicide prevention, how algorithms might affect calls for help, the risk and protective factors that associated with online communities, and the complex nature of conducting online interventions.
The second day finished with two more workshops, the first workshop featured the First Preventor’s Model and “Connecting the Dots” of scattered information and breaking down silos across multidisciplinary threat assessment teams. The last session of the day was hosted by Network Contagion Research Institute and featured an engaging workshop on the forecasting of data-driven risks and how data and trends analyzed in real time across the digital landscape have helped understand trends that resulted in offline harms and violence.
The final day of the Digital Forum began with a panel discussion moderated by the FBI BAU’s Chief, John Wyman, and featured presentations from threat assessment and management team members from across the United States. The panelists emphasized the point of establishing and enhancing teams to build capacity among professionals across various disciplines with different skills, who work together to off-ramp individuals from radicalizing to violence. The panel discussed the importance of early prevention and interventions, further supported by the public health approach to violence prevention through individual behavioral support and services.
The final workshop of the Forum was again hosted by the FBI BTAC team on the specific steps to setting up a threat assessment and management team. There was an additional presentation on technology-based resources and tools, including information-sharing software that helps ensure privacy protection while breaking down silos of information across multidisciplinary threat assessment and management teams.
The 7th Digital Forum on Prevention wrapped with closing remarks from Cure Violence Global on the public health approach to violence prevention worldwide. Cure Violence Global emphasized the public health approach using data and research in areas that are disproportionately affected, focus on interrupting the behavior of violence and identify the behavior gap to change the norms, and connecting and engaging in multiple sectors to create a whole society approach.
Future Digital Forums continue to be planned for emerging communities of stakeholders, with the next Digital Forum planned for late September 2021. In addition to March’s virtual forum focused on online gaming and esports and first virtually-based forum in September 2020 with Atlanta community leaders, previous Digital Forums have been held in Pittsburgh in September 2019, Santa Monica in November 2018, Silicon Valley in February 2018, and Washington, DC, in September 2017.
Please reach out to Hala V. Furst, Associate Director for Strategic Engagement in CP3, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn more about Digital Forums for your community and sector.
Disclaimer: Speakers and moderators are presented for informational purposes only. Participation of individuals and organizations does not imply an endorsement or sponsorship of any particular product or group by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or Federal Government.