The number one cause of death for 10 to 24 year-old Americans is homicide. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rate of youth homicide rose so dramatically that newspapers proclaimed an epidemic of violence on the streets of America. Public officials began to publicly refer to African-American men as an endangered species. Despite this reality, the violence prevention field has remained relatively ineffective because they identify the wrong risk factors. Dr. Joseph Marshall identified ten new risk factors and develops a system to directly address them. This has proven much more successful than traditional efforts to stop violence. In a small urban laboratory in San Francisco’s Mission district, Dr. Marshall discovered a cure for the communicable disease that is the number one cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 24. Dr. Marshall has turned his cure, the “Street Soldiers methodology,” into a movement to end violence throughout the United States.
The Street Soldiers methodology is based on the premise that violence is a disease, complete with risk factors, treatment, and prevention. Dr. Joseph Marshall offers a technique for local communities and national leaders to solve previously intractable problems of violence. When Dr. Marshall began his work seventeen years ago, youth violence was primarily considered a challenge to law enforcement, which approached the issue mainly through patrolling and punishment. Today, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Marshall and others, youth violence is increasingly seen as a public health issue, and solutions focus on treatment rather than fruitless punitive responses. Over the last ten years, Dr. Marshall has trained hundreds of community organizers and public school educators, and has written about his work in national journals, books, and reports, including the 2001 Surgeon General’s Report on Youth Violence. By defining violence as a disease, he provides a non-judgmental framework that makes it easier for perpetrators to seek treatment. He identifies the risk factors for violence that individuals can control, empowering those who would otherwise feel helpless to focus on what actions they can take to change their lives.