The Mayor’s Office of Domestic and Community Violence Prevention, in partnership with its grassroots team, is launching a new project in coordination with local barbers and beauticians – the Barbershop Project. This project highlights how barbers and beauticians, if provided the correct tools and education, can help interrupt the cycle of violence and support the mental wellbeing of clients.
Barbershops and salons are often places where clients develop a sense of community as they receive self-care. As a result, many times clients build trusting relationships with their barbers and may find them to be a trusted person to share concerns and challenges. Through this pilot project, select barbers will go through educational sessions with project partners, such as NAMI and the Family Peace Center. Then, they will create an atmosphere that supports safe dialogue in their facilities, as well as provide educational opportunities for clients and the community. They will also be equipped with information on community resources and support and will serve as a bridge to trustworthy service providers.
Domestic violence comprises 35 to 40 percent of Rockford’s reported violent crime, and Rockford Police Department data also shows that in the past five years, on average, 60 to 70 percent of youth committing violent crime in our community have documented exposure to domestic and sexual violence. This data helped guide the Mayor’s Office of Domestic and Community Violence Prevention to focus on crime prevention efforts that interrupt the trauma that has occurred by witnessing violence. The Barbershop Project is the latest in a series of prevention and intervention efforts by the City.