Monday, February 27, 2017

Treating violence as a contagious disease

Boston revives a national drive — decades old but recently gaining momentum — to treat violence as a contagious disease, a public health emergency, reported the Boston Globe.
When a young man appears in the emergency room, stabbed or shot, “he already has the disease of violence,” said Dr. Gary Slutkin, founder and executive director of Cure Violence, the Chicago-based nonprofit that famously deploys street workers to defuse neighborhood conflicts.
The victim’s arrival signals that more violence is likely to occur, and opens an opportunity to heal the social and emotional maladies that feed violence.
As many as 45 percent of people who go to the hospital with violent injuries return within five years, shot or stabbed again, sometimes fatally. And retaliation can lead to further shootings.
“It’s essential that there be the right type of professional who can continue to work with that person — to essentially change his thinking and his lifestyle so he doesn’t remain at this very, very high risk,” Slutkin said.
That’s why, said Slutkin, hospital-based programs such as Boston Medical Center’s Violence Intervention Advocacy Program, now in its 11th year, are essential to any antiviolence effort. The program has recently expanded into job placement and housing assistance.
Some 30 such programs operate in hospitals across the country, including at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital
"Traditionally, violence has been seen as a criminal justice issue,” said Dr. Kyle Fischer, policy director for the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs . “The evidence really shows that this is something far beyond that.”
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