CincinnatióResearchers have concluded that violent behavior in
children and youth can be prevented through more community preventative
interventions. The Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP)
Committee on Preventive Psychiatry made these conclusions in a recent
paper published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.
The GAP committee consists of psychiatrists from all over the country,
including faculty members from the University of Cincinnati, Yale
University, and Stanford University.
"Violent behavior in
children and youth is common," says Brian McConville, MD, professor of
child psychiatry and pediatrics at UC College of Medicine. "Although
there has been a decrease in the amount of violent behavior, it is
still at historically high levels."
One of the group's concerns
is guns. "The number of deaths by gunshot wounds in this country is
high," says McConville. According to the Centers for Disease Control,
one of every four deaths in adolescents aged 15 to 19 is caused by a
Children and youth are both victims and perpetrators of
violence. Risk factors include socioeconomic status, difficult
temperament, and chronic illness. Access to firearms presents a
particularly serious risk as well. However, intact family structures,
positive social peer groups, and supportive communities may help
prevent violent behavior.
Other societal prevention methods
include gun control and gun-free zones around schools. The researchers
found that programs like gun confiscation and conflict resolution for
serious at-risk youth may be useful, but only when embedded within
well-funded, clinically based, and community-focused programs.
Single-emphasis programs, such as "Boot Camps," were perceived as
beneficial, but their success rates have not been high.
believes the government needs to take steps to safeguard schools. "I
think metal detectors and guards in schools are good ideas," says
McConville. "The technology is useful, and people will get used to it
like the metal detectors at the airport." He also thinks that parents
should be active lobbyists with schools and legislators to help keep