Natasha K. Bowen: Community pulls together

September 23, 2013 

Rounding out Robeson

The Sept. 15 news article “To slow Robeson violence, leaders try to reach youths” on violence prevention in Robeson gave an incomplete picture of the county.

Robeson County comprises almost 1,000 square miles of scenic countryside. The diverse population has strong institutions and a rich history. African-Americans, Lumbees, whites and Latinos work together in schools, businesses and agencies and serve up hospitality, humor, wisdom and down-home cooking to visitors.

The project described in the article obtained funding from the Centers for Disease Control because community organizations – including nonprofits, the Health Department, UNC Pembroke, and juvenile justice – collaborated with UNC for the good of their youth. Robeson County public schools quickly signed on as a partner after being promised that project leaders, unlike like previous researchers, would see the project through and not use it to highlight the county’s struggles with poverty and violence.

Countless individuals and groups – such as churches, the Lumbee tribe and youth-serving organizations – have offered their time, talents and resources to strengthen the reach and impact of the project. These local individuals and organizations will determine whether the project has a long-term effect in the county. The project is administered by the Injury Prevention Research Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, which was also instrumental in obtaining the funding.

Natasha K. Bowen

Professor, School of Social Work, University of North Carolina

Chapel Hill

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