New Jersey County Declares Youth Violence To Be A Public Health Issue [AUDIO]
As youth violence continues to get worse and worse, one County in Jersey has adopted a resolution declaring the problem as a "public health issue."
Last night the Union County Freeholder board passed a resolution that reads "WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control have acknowledged that youth violence is a public health problem in the United States; and...
WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control report homicide as the second leading cause of death among persons aged 15-24 years; and
WHEREAS, juveniles account for 16% of all violent crime arrests; and
WHEREAS, commencing in 1990 the United States Congress approved appropriations for youth violence prevention; thereby having addressing the incidence of youth violence and working to stimulate communities at local, state and national levels to rise to action in developing violence prevention programs; and
WHEREAS, the Journal of the American Medical Association recognizes violence as a public health issue, validating that nearly 700,000 youth aged 10 to 24 years of age are treated in emergency departments throughout the United States for injuries sustained from an assault; and
WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control reported in January 2012, gang homicides accounted for a substantial proportion of homicides among youth in the United States; and
WHEREAS, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders created a Youth Violence Prevention Board to address gang and youth violence issues, acknowledging the need for youth violence prevention programs and policies that address risk and protective factors for youth violence and that promote pro-social behavior, strengthening families, and creating communities in which youth are safe from violence:
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this Board of Chosen Freeholders declares youth violence as a public health issue in Union County."
Rutgers University sociology professor Dr. Debra Carr says youth violence is a serious problem that's been with us for decades, and "I think the issue now is that it's becoming both more frequent, more severe, and then really importantly it's taking a range of different forms…including online threats and harassment…this really is a problem that if we don't nip it in the bud when the youth are young, it could really escalate and have long term societal impacts."
She says early life violence is one of the biggest predictors of being violent later in life, and "there's a lot of data showing children who beat up on other children or who attack animals for instance, go on to be aggressive spouses they have higher rates of engaging in crime…there's also data showing girls are more likely to be physically aggressive today than they were in the past - so we have kind of a larger pool of physical bullies on the playground - it's no longer just boys."
Dr. Greta Massetti, Lead Behavioral Scientist at the CDC Division of Violence Prevention, says "youth violence is actually one of the leading causes of death for young people in the United States, it is among the top 5 leading causes of death…for some racial and ethnic groups it is the leading cause of death for people 15 to 24 years old…when we're trying to address causes of injury and death that are premature for young people, violence is the primary problem. "
She says it's critically important that people understand that violence is preventable, "and that efforts that try to get ahead of the violence and prevent it from happening in the first place can prevent youth from getting injured and hurt:…the CDC is actively involved in trying to reduce the scope of the problem, and we do have some grant programs that are funded by our division - the most relevant one in youth violence prevention is called STRIVE - or striving to reduce youth violence everywhere…we do support efforts for communities to consider ways that they could approach youth violence prevention as a public health problem."
Some believe Counties that adopt resolutions now that take a firm stand against youth violence - framing the problem as a public health issue - will be better positioned to get federal grant money for anti-violence programs in the future.