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Reducing Violence: Issues, Options, and Opportunities for State Governments

Effectiveness of Interventions


Deborah Prothrow Stith, M.D., Director and Professor, Division of Public Health Practice, Associate Dean of Faculty Development, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.

Dr. Prothrow Stith indicated that the problem of violence in this country has risen to epidemic proportions. This epidemic is a combination of important factors that have "aligned" over time to act as the catalysts for violence in the United States.

These key factors include:

  • The increased availability of guns for people of all ages and the pervasive nature of gun use as a solution to problems.
  • The problem of poverty and discrepancy in social capital correlated with income and equality within communities.
  • The pervasiveness of drugs and alcohol in this country and the abuse of these substances as a factor leading to violent behavior.
  • The impact of family violence on children and families.
  • The negative shift in how people interact with one another that is illustrated by general disrespect and meanness toward others.

Dr. Prothrow Stith said that States can have a significant impact on the problem of violence by acting as a neutral convener, bringing partners together to address violence within the State and community. This can facilitate the building of a movement to combat a problem that is far too big for one program or one agency to conquer alone.

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