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Support for Curricula in Firearm Related Violence Prevention

Policy Date: 1/1/2001
Policy Number: 200118

THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION,
Recognizing that interpersonal violence profoundly affects the public health1 and has a disproportionate impact on young people and poor people;2,3
Recognizing that there are many risk factors for violence, such as alcohol, drugs, child abuse, inadequate mental health services, and poverty, but that firearms play a central role in interpersonal violence,2 and increase the cost of injuries from violence,4 the lethality of violence,3 and the emotional toll on victims and witnesses;6
Recognizing that firearm homicide victims are disproportionately young African-American males;7
Noting that Healthy People 2010 includes specific goals for reducing firearm-related deaths, nonfatal firearm-related injuries, and the proportion of people living in homes with firearms that are loaded and unlocked;8
Noting further that the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges the need for research to understand the factors that contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in fatal and nonfatal firearm-related injuries and to identify prevention efforts to reduce these disparities;9
Acknowledging the accomplishments of a few schools of public health which have established extensive violence prevention initiatives, including research and training programs as urged by APHA Resolution 9927, and as funded by the CDC as National Academic Centers of Excellence on Youth Violence;
Appreciating that numerous health care and health policy organizations have issued a call to action to their members to protect our youth from violence, particularly firearm-related violence, through involvement in community-based programs, screening protocols and interventions for at-risk individuals, professional education, and advocacy for stricter firearm regulations;10
Being concerned that, in spite of these increased advocacy efforts, more funding for firearm-related violence prevention research,11 and polls indicating that the general public favors increased regulation of firearms,12 the United States government has failed to enact a comprehensive and effective regulatory scheme for handguns as addressed previously by APHA Resolution 9818;
Understanding that prevention policy for firearm-related violence, like tobacco control and other public health remedies, will become a government priority and legislative reality only when our knowledge base is matched by the political will to support change and social strategies to accomplish change;13
Realizing that continued interest, research, and activism are needed on this complex topic, and that young health care and health policy professionals can provide new energy and ideas to policy debates both locally and nationally;14
Being concerned that many schools of public health do not currently offer any courses in violence prevention, including firearm-related injuries, and in those cases students are not being introduced to the public health implications of interpersonal violence and strategies to prevent these injuries;
Reaffirming our commitment to the training of public health professionals to participate in influencing public policy (APHA 9521 (PP)) on the major health problems we face today, including injuries from violence, and other public health concerns associated with poverty (APHA 9120); therefore, APHA
1. Supports the development of curricula or teaching modules that address violence as a public health issue and focus attention on government regulation of firearms, the most lethal agents of violence;
2. Urges all schools of public health to offer curricula in violence prevention that includes the epidemiology of firearm-related violence, intervention design and evaluation;
3. Urges schools of medicine and nursing and other health care professions to educate future health care providers about interpersonal violence, the role of firearms in violence, and how to intervene with patients to recognize risk factors and prevent the effects of violence.
References
1. Rosenberg ML, Fenley MA. Violence in America: A Public Health Approach. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1991.
2. Mercy, JA, Rosenberg ML, Powell KE, Broome CV, Roper WL. Public health policy for preventing violence. Health Affairs, 1993;12:7-29.
3. Zawitz MW, Strom KJ. Firearm injury and death from crime, 1993-97, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, D.C., October 2000, NCJ 182993.
4. Cook PJ, Lawrence BA, Ludwig J, Miller TR. The medical costs of gunshot injuries in the United States,@ JAMedical. 1999;282:447-454.
5. Zimring FE, Hawkins G. Crime is not the problem, lethal violence in america. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1997:106-123.
6. Bell CC, Jenkins EJ. Exposure and response to community violence among children and adolescents. In: Children in a Violent Society. Osofsky, ed. The Guilford Press, 1997.
7. Hoyert DL, KD Kochanek, SL Murphy. A. Deaths: Final Data for 1997,@ National Vital Statistics Reports, 1999;47(19).
8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010. 2nd ed. With Understanding and Improving Health and Objectives for Improving Health. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, November 2000, Part B, Focus Area 15, 15-3, 15-4, 15-5.
9. Gotsch KE, Annest JL, Mercy JA, Ryan GW. Surveillance for Fatal and Nonfatal Firearm-Related Injuries– United States, 1993-1998. In: CDC Surveillance Summaries, April 13, 2001. MMWR 2001;50(No. SS-2):7.
10. Commission for the Prevention of Youth Violence. Youth and Violence. Chicago, Illinois. American Medical Association. December 2000. Available electronically at http://www.ama-assn.org/
violence.
11. U.S. Department of Health And Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Announcement 01016, Grants for Violence-Related Injury Prevention Research, Notice of Availability of Funds.
12. Smith TW. 1999 National Gun Policy Survey, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, July 2000.
13. Atwood K, Colditz GA, Kawachi I. From public health science to prevention policy: placing science in its social and political contexts,” Am J Public Health. 1997;87:1603-1605.
14. http://www.firstmonday2000.com/