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News Release 96-003

$12.1 Million Award Will Create National Consortium for Research on Violence

January 24, 1996

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FBI statistics show that arrests in 1990 for aggravated assault peaked among males between the ages of 15 and 24. In that age group, 6.5 males per 1,000 in the U.S. were arrested for these violent crimes. The number of arrests drop to half of that by age 35, and a third by age 40.

In response to concern about violence in the U.S., the National Science Board has approved a plan by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award $12.1 million to Carnegie Mellon University to establish a National Consortium For Research on Violence. The National Science Board, NSF's policymaking body, approved the plan at its December 14 meeting.

"The consortium will generate fundamental knowledge about the causes and consequences of violence," says Cora Marrett, NSF's assistant director for social, behavioral and economic sciences. "It will not only provide new data, but it will also integrate substantial but fragmented studies, theory, and research methods" into a useful body of knowledge. "Until now," she says, "there has been no effective mechanism for cooperation among researchers in diverse fields of science to systematically examine this subject which has prompted so much scientific and public concern. There is now."

The new consortium is a major step in a broader effort among federal agencies to bring rigorously reviewed scientific knowledge to bear on the issue of violence in the U.S. In a report titled "Understanding and Preventing Violence," a panel of experts convened by the National Research Council in 1993 called for a long-term commitment to support basic research in the area.

Carnegie Mellon University plans to assemble a team of 39 researchers from 24 research institutions in 11 states, Canada, and four European countries. The National Consortium For Research on Violence will be directed by Alfred Blumstein, the J. Erik Jonsson Professor of Urban Systems and Operations Research in Carnegie Mellon University's H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management.

"Crime -- particularly violent crime -- has been identified for the past several years as the public's number one concern," says Blumstein, "yet we cannot be effective in dealing with it without developing a strong base of knowledge about its causes and about the consequences of various kinds of intervention." The consortium of scientists will look at the development of violence in individuals and try to discover how and why violent patterns develop in some individuals and not in others. Related issues will include drug abuse and drug markets, guns, gangs and socialization processes in families and communities.

Some trends are clear. "FBI figures on arrest rates show that armed assault, like most violence, is overwhelmingly a male phenomenon," says NSF's Marrett. "They also show that violence is a youth phenomenon: both males and females between the ages of 15 and 29 are far more likely to be arrested for armed assault than any other age group. The question is: why?"

NSF funding is to be awarded over five years, beginning with $4 million in the current fiscal year. Two other federal agencies have committed support. The National Institute of Justice plans to contribute $200,000 to help communicate and disseminate information, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development is transferring almost $2 million to NSF to go toward the $12.1 million five-year total.


Media Contacts
C. Neal Tate, NSF, (703) 306-1762, email:
George E. Chartier, NSF, (703) 306-1070, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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