“When we say violence is a public health problem, what we’re really saying is that it’s a preventable problem,” says Harvard University researcher Deborah Prothrow-Stith. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says she has been preaching the theory for decades, after, as a young physician, she tired of the stitch-em-up, send-em-out approach. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is a believer. The city plans to unveil a large-scale public health initiative for city youths soon. Prothrow-Stith met last week with Jackson and his leaders in education, recreation, public health, safety and work force development.
The professor works with city leaders to help them abandon the “lock ’em up” approach as a part of a 45-city Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded project called UNITY: Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth Through Violence Prevention. Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is making youth violence a priority. The hospital will refine its practices to identify children who have witnessed brutality and are at risk for becoming violent. Officials then will connect the youngsters with violence-prevention resources before they leave the hospital.