Category Archives: Violence
Inspired by the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, all week we've been talking with national health leaders and highlighting promising strategies to improve our nation's health and health care.
>>View the full package of thought leader interviews, video conversations with leaders from across sectors, and more at RWJF.org/futureofhealth.
Now we want to hear from you on what’s needed—and what works—to achieve better health. Share your stories from the field, ideas or even the critical questions we need to be asking to achieve a healthier future.
To join the conversation, add your thoughts in the comments section below.
To get your ideas flowing around the future of health and health care, read more on:
Reversing the Trend of Childhood Obesity. Read a Q&A with Jessica Donze Black of the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project on a new report looking at snacks sold in secondary schools. Also find updates on a new Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity study on parents’ attitudes about food marketing to children, and more.
Reducing Violence in Communities. Read a Q&A with Debbie Lee from Start Strong on preventing teen dating violence and a discussion with Sheila Regan of Cure Violence on partnering with hospitals for violence prevention.
Preparing and Responding to Disasters. Read discussions spurred by Hurricane Sandy, including about the role of public health as well as legal issues around orders to evacuate in an emergency.
Harnessing the Potential of Big Data. Read updates on how Big Data can change the landscape of public health, including a conversation with Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health IT, as well as Q&As and video interviews with other innovators and thought leaders.
Improving Health Equity. Read stories from the field and interviews with leaders on efforts to ensure everyone—regardless of race, ethnicity, income or zip code—has access to the resources they need to be healthy, including a diverse and representative health public health workforce.
Working Across Sectors to Improve Health. Read stories from the field and big ideas for bridging across sectors from thought leaders, including conversations with The California Endowment President Robert Ross and new APHA president Adewale Troutman.
Don't forget to share what YOU think will make for a healthier future in the comments below!
The city of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society are seeing positive results as they continue to grow their Philadelphia Green program. The program has taken on the vacant lots in Philadelphia neighborhoods and transformed them from embarrassing eye sores to points of pride – and made the community safer in the process.
“The city owned the problem even if we did not own the land” said Robert Grossmann, Director, Philadelphia Green. “We decided to use horticulture to build community and improve the quality of life in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and downtown public spaces.”
The goal was to help build equity for the people living in the neighborhoods so they felt a sense of pride – the result was crime prevention through environmental design.
With the help of community activists and landscape contractors the program has “cleaned and greened” more than 7,000 lots. The impact is a reduction in gun crimes, lower rates of vandalism and residents even report experiencing lower stress rates and an increased urge to get out and exercise.
>>EDITOR'S NOTE: On 9/13/2012 CeaseFire changed its name to Cure Violence.
Sheila Regan manages hospital partnerships for Cure Violence, formerly CeaseFire, an organization based in Chicago that has pioneered a public health approach to stopping shootings and killings. A grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Cure Violence has been successful at reducing violence in cities across America.
This week at APHA, Cure Violence shared how violence presents all the same characteristics of an infectious disease. Like tuberculosis or cholera, violence appears in clusters; it spreads and can be transmitted. By changing the frame on violence, Cure Violence is able to use proven public health strategies from other epidemics to stop shootings and killings. Hospital partnerships are a key part in stopping the spread and transmission of violence.
NewPublicHealth: Can you explain how Cure Violence’s hospital partnerships work?
Sheila Regan: We have a number of partnerships with level I trauma centers that are committed to the public health approach to violence prevention. We serve patients who are violently injured, typically shootings, stabbings or beatings and work to prevent further violence, retaliation or re-injury, which are seen as normal in our culture. There are the doctors, police, nurses, social workers, and everybody you’d expect to see in the hospital. What we’re trying to do is introduce a third party—our workers—who can impact behavior and mindset around violence at an opportune moment.
NPH: When someone has been injured, what is the goal of Cure Violence working with them in the hospital?
Debbie Lee, senior vice president at Futures Without Violence and deputy director of Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships’ national program office, will speak Tuesday, October 30 about lessons learned from the Start Strong initiative at an APHA session on preventing teen dating violence.
Start Strong is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with Futures Without Violence. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Blue Shield of California Foundation have invested in 11 communities across the country to identify and evaluate the most promising pathways to stop dating violence and abuse before it starts. This initiative uses a comprehensive community health model to prevent teen dating violence and promote the development of healthy relationships among 11 to 14 year olds.
NewPublicHealth spoke with Debbie Lee before her APHA session to find out more about the unique approach Start Strong is taking to building healthy relationships skills in youth and tackling teen dating violence before it begins.
NewPublicHealth: First tell us a bit more about the comprehensive approach that Start Strong uses.
Debbie Lee: Start Strong uses a multifaceted approach to promote healthy relationship behaviors among young adolescents in order to stop relationship violence before it starts. Its four key components include: educating and engaging youth in and out of school; engaging the people that influence teens; addressing policy change in schools and environmental factors that affect adolescent development; and then implementing communications and social marketing strategies to create and reinforce positive social norms.
NPH: This year’s theme at APHA is “Prevention and Wellness Across the Lifespan.” How does Start Strong fit into this theme?
Survey: High School Football Players Often Hiding Concussions
Approximately half of high school football players who showed signs of concussions did not report the possibility out of concern that they would not be allowed to continue with the sport, according to survey results to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting. Concussions—especially repeated concussions—can lead to long-term brain injury. "The good news is that kids are paying attention and have gotten some increased knowledge," said Michael Israel, MD, of the department of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "But they also know that due to state rules, if they have certain symptoms they have to go through a certain protocol to get back to play. Some of them are potentially hiding their symptoms to avoid being pulled." Read more on concussions.
Overweight People More Likely to Be Hospitalized
Simply being a few pounds overweight makes a person more likely to be hospitalized, according to a new study in the International Journal of Obesity. The two-year study included approximately 250,000 people. The most common reasons for hospitalization were diabetes, heart disease, chest pain, arthritis and asthma. "There is considerable evidence that severe obesity is bad for your health, resulting in higher rates of disease and consequently higher use of health services and higher death rates," said study author Rosemary Korda, from the Australian National University in Canberra. Read more on obesity.
Bullies More Likely to Suffer from Mental Health Disorders
Kids with mental health issues are three times more likely to be bullies than those without mental disorders, according to a new study. The study found that depression and oppositional defiant disorder made children three and six times more likely to bully their peers, respectively. "These findings highlight the importance of providing psychological support not only to victims of bullying, but to bullies as well," said Frances Turcotte-Benedict, MD a Brown University master's of public health student and a fellow at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, R.I. "In order to create successful anti-bullying prevention and intervention programs, there certainly is a need for more research to understand the relationship more thoroughly, and especially, the risk profile of childhood bullies." Read more on violence.
Martin Fenstersheib, MD, MPH, director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department in California led a session on safe outdoor activity for kids and adults at the 2012 Public Health Law Conference. NewPublicHealth spoke to Dr. Fenstersheib about what is keeping our communities from safely getting outside to play—violence, blight and communities built for cars—and solutions grounded in evidence-based public health law.
NewPublicHealth: You presented at a key session on making outdoor physical activity opportunities safer. What makes this an important issue for you?
Dr. Fentersheib: Often when we talk about physical activity, we hear people say that all we need to do is convince kids to go outdoors. A lot of us then say, “when we were kids, our parents let us out of the house in the morning and we came back at nighttime and all was well.” There wasn’t any problem with that. But, of course, we’ve all become aware of safety as a barrier to outdoor physical activity. And the issue has to do with not only criminal or violence safety, but safe streets generally. Do cars in an area make it less safe for example? And, is our environment built in a way that it is safe for kids to walk to school? My presentation will be an overview of the benefits of physical activity, and what some of the barriers are.
We’ll also look at the legal side of the issue, including a study on mixed use land zoning. I think the bottom line is that safer neighborhoods will have more of a mixed use flavor so that you don’t have to go far to get to work or play or to recreational areas. In such neighborhoods, there are stores and other places for you to go, and you’re closer to public transportation. The data to be presented will show that the crime rates in those areas are lower than in pure industrial areas or areas where there isn’t mixed use. Mixed use is helping to improve the built environment in the communities in which we live by having more eyes on the street, by having people basically looking out for one another and be more of a community.
NPH: What are examples in Santa Clara of new plans to create safer outdoor spaces for children and adults?
Study: Kids Encounter 4 Hours of Background TV Daily
A new study in the journal Pediatrics reveals that U.S. children encounter an average of about four hours of background television daily. The study surveyed approximately 1,500 parents and caregivers of children ages 8 months to 8 years. Noise from background television “appears to impede social skills, impulse control, and the ability to concentrate, focus and complete tasks,” according to HealthDay. "We think the problem may come from the sound effects, the changes in dialogue and voice pitch, which as a whole constantly recruits a kid's attention and causes them to shift back and forth between their play task and the TV," said study author Deborah Linebarger, associate professor of education at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. "And that constant shifting makes it more difficult to learn how to concentrate and attend appropriately." Read more on pediatrics.
Serious Child Abuse-Related Injuries Up, Despite Overall Drop
Serious injuries from child abuse were up from 1997 to 2009, according to a review of the Kids Inpatient Database in the journal Pediatrics. This is despite an overall decrease in reported child abuse cases over that period. While child protective service records recorded a 55 percent decrease in injuries, hospital statistics showed an increase of 4.9 percent of serious injuries — such as fractures and head trauma. Study co-author John Mishel Leventhal, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, said the difference is likely due to different groups looking at different data sources. "Prevention messages must be clearer, louder and heard in various settings including health care, daycare, parent support groups," he said. Read more on violence.
Study: IVF-Related Birth Defects Becoming Less Common
Birth defects in children born through in vitro fertilization are becoming less common, according to a new study from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Subiaco, Western Australia. Assisted-reproduction techniques generally mean a higher risk of birth defects than traditional conception. The study looked at 207,000 births overall. The study authors were careful to note that they did not know how much exactly the rate of defects has decreased, nor why it is higher in the first place. "Changes to clinical practice may be largely responsible with improved (laboratory techniques) leading to the transfer of 'healthier' embryos," said Michele Hansen, the lead author of the study, to Reuters. Read more on maternal and infant health.
Researchers to Study Yosemite Hantavirus Strain
Public health officials and researchers are using the recent hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite National Park to conduct further study into areas such as how it’s transmitted and why it is seems to be more likely to affect certain people. At least nine people were infected and three died because of the outbreak. Their efforts include whole-genome sequencing of the particular strain and voluntary screenings of more than 2,500 Yosemite employees. Read more on infectious diseases.
Study: Harmful “Social Bullying” Common on Kids’ Shows
A new study in the Journal of Communication shows that “social bullying” is common in television programs targeting children ages 2-11. Researchers found 92 percent of 150 episodes analyzed included mean behavior, insults or other forms of non-physical bullying. The popular shows included "Hannah Montana," "Suite Life of Zack & Cody," and "SpongeBob SquarePants." "Lots of attention has been paid to exposure to nudity and violence in the media, and rightfully so," said Nicole Martins, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in the department of telecommunications at Indiana University. "But parents are largely unaware that programs could be teaching children to be cruel and mean to each other as well. Just because a show is low on physical violence doesn't mean it's harmless." Read more on bullying and violence.
Doctors Reporting Dangerous Drivers Cuts Crashes Dramatically
A new study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that reporting by doctors of drivers with alcoholism, epilepsy or uncontrolled high blood pressure helped cut the risk of automobile collisions by 45 percent. The study looked at the risks associated with 100,075 people who were told by their doctor not to drive. "It isn't just that it can save your patient's life, not just that (not reporting) imposes risks on others in the community as well," said Donald Redelmeier, MD, of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and the study’s lead researcher. "It's also that crashes are such a widespread cause of property damage that everybody pays, either through insurance premiums, or congested roadways, or the price of consumer goods." However, the study did note that reporting patients might make them less likely to return to their doctors. Read more on prevention.
Study Recommends Treatment for Mini Strokes
A transient ischemic attack or a “mini stroke,” can lead to serious disability, but is often thought of as too mild to treat, according to a study in the American Heart Association journal Stroke. Among the 499 patients studied, 15 percent had at least minor disability 90 days after their original mini stroke. Computed tomography (CT) scans showed some mini stroke patients had narrowed blood vessels in the brain, and others reported ongoing or worsening symptoms. Those patients were more than twice as likely to have disability at 90 days. The researchers say imaging should be done on all mini stroke patients to determine whether treatment is needed. Read more on access to health care.
Wildfire Smoke Linked to Low Birth Weights
Pregnant women exposed to wildfire smoke during Southern California’s 2003 fire season had babies with lower birth weights when compared to babies not exposed to the smoke, according to researchers from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. The researchers say the finding is important because climate change is expected to increase the number of wildfires in the United States. The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Read more on the environment.
Violent Video Games Linked to Reckless Driving in Teens
A new study in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture finds that teens who play video games that emphasize risk and violence may be more likely to take risks when driving. Read more on violence.
CDC: Millions of Americans with High, Untreated Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects 67 million of U.S. adults, or almost one-third, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And as many as 36 million of those aren’t treating the condition properly. High blood pressure contributes to about 1,000 deaths each day and about $131 billion each year in health care costs. The CDC says the key to treating high blood pressure in U.S. adults is for everyone—from patients to providers—to act together as a team. “We have to roll up our sleeves and make blood pressure control a priority every day, with every patient, at every doctor’s visit,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. “With increased focus and collaboration among patients, health care providers and health care systems, we can help 10 million Americans’ blood pressure come into control in the next five years.” Read more on heart health.
HUD Releases New Lead-Paint Guidelines for Housing Providers
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released new Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housing, updating its guidance from 1995. The guidelines are designed to help property owners, government agencies and private contractors dramatically reduce childhood exposure to lead while still keeping renovation costs as low as possible. “HUD is committed to providing healthier housing for all families,” said Jon L. Gant, Director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. “These Guidelines will help communities around the nation protect families from lead exposure and other significant health and safety hazards.” Read more on housing.
People More Likely to Guzzle Beer from a Curved Glass than a Straight One
A new study in PLoS ONE shows social drinkers will drink beer almost twice as fast from a curved glass than they will from a straight one—meaning they will become intoxicated far quicker. Researchers at the University of Bristol School of Experimental Psychology said this could be because it is harder to judge the amount consumed when using a curved glass. “Due to the personal and societal harms associated with heavy bouts of drinking, there has been a lot of recent interest in alcohol control strategies,” said Angela Attwood, PhD, adding that “[p]eople often talk of ‘pacing themselves’ when drinking alcohol as a means of controlling levels of drunkenness, and I think the important point to take from our research is that the ability to pace effectively may be compromised when drinking from certain types of glasses.” Read more on alcohol.
Study Details Bullying Involvement for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Approximately 46 percent of adolescents with autism are the victims of bullying, according to a new study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a JAMA Network publication. Bullying is harmful behavior coming from a position of power, whether physical, social or cognitive. There is still very little research on bullying related to adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the study’s researchers. The study’s authors concluded that bullying intervention strategies need to address core ASD deficits, such as conversational ability and social skills, while also increasing social integration, empathy and social skills. Read more on bullying.