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Don’t Love No Fight: Healing and Identity Among Urban Youth


A neighborhood in Philadelphia, PA, hard hit by violence, approached the local chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility on behalf of its youth. The chapter responded by developing a psychosocial after-school intervention for early adolescent males, which participants named Peaceful Posse. Youth showed up consistently for the groups, after school and on their own, sometimes for years. Yet the program recognized that there was a great deal not fully understood about the lives of its participants. The present study used a careful analysis of individual interviews conducted with a sample of boys to extend the program’s understanding. Including the perspectives of these participants offered a deeper appreciation of the challenges youth face when exposed to chronic violence and of their resourcefulness at finding relationships to help themselves through these challenges. Their perspectives helped the program to broaden its understanding of healing. The key role of identity as an embodiment of the hopes of the young men helped the program to better appreciate this particularly important locus of healing for urban youth exposed to violence.

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Author information

Correspondence to Michael C. Reichert.

Additional information

Michael C. Reichert is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Boys’ Lives, Haverford, USA. Brett Stoudt is a Senior Research Associate in Center for the Study of Boys’ Lives, Haverford, USA. Peter Kuriloff is a Professor in Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.



Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Where do you live? How long have you lived there? Who lives with you? Can you tell me about your relationships with those who live with you?

  2. 2.

    What is your neighborhood like? Where do you go? What do you like to do? Are there places in your neighborhood you do not feel comfortable going to?

  3. 3.

    What school do you attend? What grade are you in? What is school like for you? Have you been in any trouble in school?

  4. 4.

    How long have you been attending Peaceful Posse? Why do you attend? What do you do in the group? What is your relationship with the other boys in the group? With the group’s leader?

  5. 5.

    Have you seen or experienced violence? In your neighborhood? In school? What kinds of violence have you witnessed? Experienced?

  6. 6.

    What has your experience with fighting been?

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Reichert, M., Stoudt, B. & Kuriloff, P. Don’t Love No Fight: Healing and Identity Among Urban Youth. Urban Rev 38, 187 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-006-0033-7

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  • adolescence
  • urban
  • violence
  • trauma
  • identity