VIOLENCEExperts Shed Light on Preventing Violence

Published 9 August 2022

As the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at CU Boulder turns 30, its founder and current director share thoughts on the center’s legacy.

It was 1992 when Delbert Elliott, who had been researching criminology and delinquency for three decades, decided it was time to apply his research into reducing violence and promoting positive youth development. That was the birth of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV).

For the last thirty years, the CSPV has been a pioneer in studying and identifying what works preventing school shootings and other violence and championing the use of evidence-based programs backed by the highest scientific standards. To date, it has successfully led over 75 school and community initiatives in Colorado, nationally and internationally.

“Developing the center was a critical turn in my career,” Elliott says. “I wasn’t satisfied with just the research and I wanted to be closer to what was happening out in the field, to help those who were working in the field. The center opened up a lot of opportunities for me.”

Elliott, who retired in 2018 at the age of 85, says the CSPV accomplishment that means the most to him was developing the Blueprints for Violence Prevention program (now dubbed Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development). It added scientific standards for evaluating the evidence of a program’s effectiveness, and it included an expert review process along with certification for programs that met the standard. The program originally focused on violence and drug use outcomes but it has since expanded into mental and physical health, self-regulation, educational achievement and other positive developmental outcomes.

“I do like the range of interests that are covered now in the blueprints, it’s a good and healthy thing to expand into those new areas,” he says. “I think the blueprints has the greatest potential to make an impact in the field because we know that these are programs you can count on because we know they work.”

Elliott says the idea for blueprints hit him when he realized those who were giving grants didn’t know what worked. “A lot of times the grant money was just based guesses or on political patronage,” he says.

He adds that he felt good about the transition when he retired in 2018. “I’m very proud of Beverly (Beverly Kingston, the CSPV’s director since 2012)—she’s done a terrific job.”

Kingston, who worked with Elliott for 20 years, calls him a “man of great honor and integrity,” adding: