Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center | Somali Youth Risk and Resilience Project

Understanding Pathways To and Away From Violence Among Resettled Somali Youth


There is much talk on national and international news about links between refugee/immigrant youth and violence. This discussion has often taken place without the voices of those who are most affected by the violence and its aftermath: the refugee and immigrant communities themselves.

This has been especially true of the Somali community. A decade-long partnership between academics at the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center (RTRC) at Boston Children's Hospital and the Somali community has led to the understanding that youth violence is a key concern for the Somali community. Together the RTRC and community partners have built a research program upon the idea that the Somali community has a central stake in preventing violence among its youth, as well as in identifying and countering such actions and/or ideologies.

The Project:

Our ultimate goal continues to be working with community partners, our greatest assets, to identify community resources that can help strengthen social bonds and build capacity, allowing community members themselves to become knowledgeable, skillful and respected partners in addressing the threat of violence.

Currently, we are conducting a mixed-method multi-site longitudinal study of young Somalis in the United States and in Canada (N = 465) to better understand pathways to and away from violence. We are near completion of the second wave of data collection and plan to begin the third wave later this year. We ultimately hope to better understand the factors that promote or prevent violence among refugee youth, as well as the role that communities play, to create a model for the prevention and intervention of youth vulnerability to violence and other negative outcomes.

Policy Brief:



Meet the Team

Investigators: Dr. Heidi Ellis (Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School); Saida Abdi (Boston Children’s Hospital/Boston University); Matthew White (Boston Children’s Hospital); John Horgan (UMass Lowell); Alisa Lincoln (Northeastern University); Jessica Stern (Harvard School of Public Health)

Boston Team
: (Left to right):
Colleen Barrett,  Sara Bravmann,  Saida Abdi,  Naima Agalab,  Timothy Argetsinger,  Vanja Lazarevic,  Osob Issa

Click image to enlarge

Resources related to addressing violent extremism:

Find Out More

For additional information, please contact the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center:

Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center
Boston Children’s Hospital
21 Autumn St, 1st Floor
Boston, MA 02115

Email address:

Phone number: 617-919-4631



Department of Defense Minerva Initiative; National Institute of Justice