Editor’s Note: The study is available at http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/4/1/45
DURHAM, NC - Children around the world who grow up in dangerous neighborhoods exhibit more aggressive behavior, says a new Duke University-led study that is the first to examine the topic across a wide range of countries.
Many U.S. studies have described a link between dangerous neighborhoods and children’s aggressive behavior. Authors of the new study wanted to determine whether the pattern held true in other cultures. To find out, researchers interviewed parents and children from 1,293 families in nine countries: China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.
The study appears online today in the journal Societies.
The researchers asked families a series of questions about dangers in their neighborhoods. Based on the answers, the researchers scored the neighborhoods according to their degree of danger.
To measure children’s aggressive behavior, researchers asked parents and children to complete a widely used child-behavior checklist that captures behaviors such as screaming and threatening people. The researchers sought answers from mothers, fathers and children for the surveys, in order to obtain a fuller portrait.
In neighborhoods that parents described as highly dangerous, children exhibited higher levels of aggressive behavior. This link held true across all nine countries studied, based on parentsâ responses, said lead author Ann T. Skinner, a researcher with Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy.
“This is an incredibly diverse set of countries from around the world, representing countries from the developing and the developed world and including individualistic and collectivist societies,” Skinner said. “In all the countries we studied, we see that living in a dangerous neighborhood may affect kids negatively.”
The study further suggests that perilous neighborhoods may affect children indirectly, through their parents. In all nine countries, when children reported living in more dangerous neighborhoods, harsh parenting practices were more common, as was child aggression. However, adults’ and children’s perceptions differed on that point. More research is needed to determine whether or not dangerous neighborhoods promote harsh parenting practices, Skinner said.
The research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant RO1-HD054805, Fogarty International Center grant RO3-TW008141 and the intramural program of the NIH, NICHD.
Related articles (including other studies focusing on different factors)
“Lasting changes will come from deep work by individuals to create systemic change.”
Reducing violence in neighborhoods enhances the community environ- ment and allows people to thrive. The prevention of violence facilitates community cohesion and participation, fosters neighborhood improve- ments, expands employment and educational opportunities, and improves overall health and well-being.
Violence influences where people live, work, and shop; whether parents let kids play outside and walk to school; and whether there is a grocery store or places for employment in the community. Violence jeopardizes health and safety directly— causing injuries, death, and emotional trauma. Witnessing or directly experiencing violence, as well as the fear of violence, are damaging, with consequences that also contribute to unhealthy behavior and a diminished community environment. Vio- lence and fear undermine attempts to improve healthy eating and active living, there- by exacerbating existing illnesses and increasing the risk for onset of disease, includ- ing chronic disease. They affect young people, low-income communities, and com- munities of color disproportionately. Violence and food- and activity-related chron- ic diseases are most pervasive in disenfranchised communities, where they occur more frequently and with greater severity, making them fundamental equity issues.
Chronic disease is a major health challenge—it contributes to premature death, lowers quality of life, and accounts for the dramatic rise in recent healthcare spend- ing. One striking example is the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the United States. Researchers predict that by 2034, the number of people suffering from dia- betes will likely double to 44.1 million, and related health care costs will triple to $336 billion.1 Improving healthy eating and active living environments and behaviors is the crucial link to preventing many forms of chronic disease. Health leaders have been making great strides in mounting a strong, effective response to chronic disease and in improving community environments to support healthy eating and activity. However, chronic disease prevention strategies—designing neighborhoods that encourage walking and bicycling to public transit, parks, and healthy food retail, or attracting grocery stores in communities that lack access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables—are less effective when fear and violence pervade the environment. As more communities grapple with chronic disease, health practitioners and advocates are becoming increasingly aware of the need to address violence as a critical part of their efforts, and they are seeking further guidance on effective strategies.
The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance and deepen the understanding of the inter-relationship between violence and healthy eating and activity. It presents first-hand evidence based on a set of interviews Prevention Institute facilitated with community representatives—advocates and practitioners working in healthy eating and active living. Direct quotes from these interviewees appear in italics throughout this paper. In addition to the interviews, the Institute conducted a scan of peer- reviewed literature and professional reports that confirm the intersection between vio- lence and healthy eating and active living.3-12 …
**Prevention Institute was founded in 1997 to serve as a focal point for primary prevention practice—promoting policies, organizational practices, and collaborative efforts that improve health and quality of life. As a national non-profit organization, the Institute is committed to preventing illness and injury, to fostering health and social equity, and to building momentum for community prevention as an integral component of a quality health system.
Publications are online and free.
How do pathways to jail vary for females who are victims of specific types of trauma? New research published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, a SAGE journal, pinpoints the types of trauma such as caregiver violence, witnessing violence, and intimate partner violence, that lead to specific types of offending later in life and offers explanations based on real experiences.
Researchers Dana DeHart, Shannon Lynch, Joanne Belknap, and Bonnie Green conducted life-history interviews with 115 female inmates from five U.S. states and found the following patterns:
- Intimate partner violence increased women’s risks for property crimes, drug offending, and commercial sex work. These relationships often related to intimate involvement with violent men who fluctuated between roles as the women’s co-offenders, drug dealers, and pimps.
- Witnessing violence increased risks for property crimes, fighting, and use of weapons. These relationships often stemmed from affiliation with criminal networks, and often women’s use of weapons or aggression arose from efforts to protect themselves or others.
- Experiences of caregiver violence increased risk of running away as a teen. Runaway youth often enact this behavior as a means of escaping intolerable maltreatment at home.
- Orange the New Black for Female Trauma Victims? (medindia.net)
- Different Traumas Result in Different Crimes for Female Offenders (counselheal.com)
Young men who are gang members suffer unprecedented levels of psychiatric illness, placing a heavy burden on mental health services, according to new research led by Queen Mary, University of London.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Maurice & Jacqueline Bennett Charitable Trust funded study surveyed 4,664 men aged 18 to 34 in Britain. The survey covered measures of psychiatric illness, violence and gang membership. It is the first time research has looked into whether gang violence is associated with psychiatric illness, other than substance misuse.
In terms of mental health, gang members and violent men were significantly more likely to suffer from a mental disorder and access psychiatric services than non-violent men. The exception was depression, which was significantly less common among gang members and violent men.
Violent ruminative thinking, violent victimisation and fear of further victimisation were significantly higher in gang members and believed to account for high levels of psychosis and anxiety disorder in gang members.
The findings showed that, of the 108 gang members surveyed:
- 85.8 per cent had an antisocial personality disorder;
- Two-thirds were alcohol dependent;
- 25.1 per cent screened positive for psychosis;
- More than half (57.4 per cent) were drug dependent;
- Around a third (34.2 per cent) had attempted suicide; and
- More than half (58.9 per cent) had an anxiety disorder.
The authors suggest that the higher rate of attempted suicide attempts among gang members may be associated with other psychiatric illness, but could also correspond with the notion that impulsive violence may be directed both outwardly and inwardly.
Street gangs are concentrated in inner urban areas characterised by socioeconomic deprivation, high crime rates and multiple social problems. The authors report that around one per cent of 18 to 34-year-old men in Britain are gang members. The level rises to 8.6 per cent in the London borough of Hackney, where one in five black men reported gang membership….
- Unprecedented Levels Of Psychiatric Illness Found In Gang Members (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Gang Members at an Increased Risk of Psychiatric Illnesses (counselheal.com)
- Most Gang Members Have a Diagnosable Mental Illness (motherboard.vice.com)
- Gang Members May Suffer From Unprecedented Illnesses (scienceworldreport.com)
- Gang Membership Tied To Mental Health Problems (medicalnewstoday.com)
Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:
The past 25 years have seen a major paradigm shift in the field of violence prevention, from the assumption that violence is inevitable to the recognition that violence is preventable. Part of this shift has occurred in thinking about why violence occurs, and where intervention points might lie. In exploring the occurrence of violence, researchers have recognized the tendency for violent acts to cluster, to spread from place to place, and to mutate from one type to another. Furthermore, violent acts are often preceded or followed by other violent acts.
In the field of public health, such a process has also been seen in the infectious disease model, in which an agent or vector initiates a specific biological pathway leading to symptoms of disease and infectivity. The agent transmits from individual to individual, and levels of the disease in the population above the baseline constitute an epidemic. Although violence does not have a readily observable biological agent as an initiator, it can follow similar epidemiological pathways.
Originally posted on The Fly:
Come back Mom and Dad
You’re growing apart; you know that I’m growing up sad
I need some attention
I shoot into the light.
- Peter Gabriel, “Family Snapshot”
Purposeless boys are dangerous.
Michael Gurian, in his book The Purpose of Boys (2010), lists some of the effects of the growing population of boys without purpose.
Practical ways parents and others can help children in the days, weeks, and months after traumatic events.
From the US National Institute on Mental Health.
Tips are practical and some are arranged by age groups.
An excerpt from the booklet
How Parents Can Help:
After violence or a disaster parents and family should:
- Identify and address their own feelings — this will allow them to help others
- Explain to children what happened
- Let children know:
- You love them
- The event was not their fault
- You will take care of them, but only if you can; be honest
- It’s okay for them to feel upset
- Allow children to cry
- Allow sadness
- Let children talk about feelings
- Let them write about feelings
- Let them draw pictures
- Expect children to be brave or tough
- Make children discuss the event before they are ready
- Get angry if children show strong emotions
- Get upset if they begin:
- Acting out
- If children have trouble sleeping:
- Give them extra attention
- Let them sleep with a light on
- Let them sleep in your room (for a short time)
- Try to keep normal routines (such routines may not be normal for some children):
- Bed-time stories
- Eating dinner together
- Watching TV together
- Reading books, exercising, playing games
- If you can’t keep normal routines, make new ones together
- Help children feel in control:
- Let them choose meals, if possible
- Let them pick out clothes, if possible
- Let them make some decisions for themselves, when possible.
- How to talk with children about the Connecticut shooting, other tragedies (q13fox.com)
- SAMHSA Coping with Violence and Traumatic Events (samhsa.gov)
- How to Cope With Fear After School Shootings (livescience.com)
- NAEYC Tips for Talking to Young Children (drcindysimpson.com)
- Save the Children Offers 10 Tips to Help All Children Cope (5minutesformom.com)
After reading this article a few questions come to mind.
Has this kind of violence always occurred, and is only now being studied more closely in the past?
Are more people becoming increasingly desensitized to violence through depiction in the media? and being violent (including verbally) without realizing the consequences?
Should dating be discouraged in people under 16 ? Should they be encouraged to socialize with others in the younger teen years rather than date in order to learn how to communicate, respect one another, and develop as individuals?
Do people (especially girls, young women) have too high expectations of dating? Do they expect a boy or young man to fill needs best met by families/parents?
On a related note, about a year ago I was on our courthouse grounds for a few hours. I was participating in a local peace group’s display of the cost of the Iraq war. A couple walked by, and the young man (late teens/early 20′s) was pushing the young woman he was walking with and calling her names. Although both were smiling, it seemed like it was escalating. I stepped in, not boldly, and tried to get him to stop through words. Forgot what I said. He didn’t really stop, but at least it did not get any worse.
On reflection, the relationship seemed to be based more on ownership than mutual love. So sad.
Overall, nearly two-thirds of both men and women reported some type of abuse during their teenage years, which falls in line with other studies.
But it was surprising how many teen victims had two or more abusive partners, said Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.
“For about one in three teens who were abused, it wasn’t just one bad boyfriend or girlfriend. It may have been at least the start of a trend,” Bonomi said.
The same patterns were not seen in similar population-based studies of adults, who tend to report abuse by a single partner, she said….
One argument that violence researchers often hear is that behaviors like name-calling and insults aren’t serious enough to be called abuse. But that’s not true, Bonomi said.
“Studies in adults have shown that psychological abuse alone can be damaging to health,” she said. She is currently studying whether the same is true for adolescents….
Some types of dating violence tended to occur at earlier ages than others, the study found. For females reporting dating violence, controlling behavior tended to occur early, with 44 percent reporting it between the ages of 13 and 15. For males, 13 to 15 was the most common age range for the first occurrence of put-downs and name-calling (60 percent).
Pressure to have sex was more likely to start at later ages, from 16 to 17 for women.
Bonomi said it was significant that college students were reporting this level of abuse as teens.
“There’s a common belief in our society that dating violence only affects low-income and disadvantaged teens. But these results show that even relatively privileged kids, who are on their way to college, can be victims.”
The results also call for better education in our elementary schools.
“Many of these kids are getting in relationships early, by the age of 13,” Bonomi said. “We need to help them learn about healthy relationships and how to set sexual boundaries. It shouldn’t just be one class session — it needs to be a routine discussion in school.”
- Teen Dating Violence (politicalsocialworker.wordpress.com)
- What’s Behind All The Violence In America Today? (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
“The reality untaught in American schools and textbooks is that war — whether on a large or small scale — and domestic violence have been pervasive in American life and culture from this country’s earliest days almost 400 years ago. Violence, in varying forms,according to the leading historian of the subject, Richard Maxwell Brown, “has accompanied virtually every stage and aspect of our national experience,” and is “part of our unacknowledged (underground) value structure.” Indeed, “repeated episodes of violence going far back into our colonial past, have imprinted upon our citizens a propensity to violence.”Thus, America demonstrated a national predilection for war and domestic violence long before the 9/11 attacks, but its leaders and intellectuals through most of the last century cultivated the national self-image, a myth, of America as a moral, “peace-loving” nation which the American population seems unquestioningly to have embraced. But the Reality tells different story.”
Take dating violence, for example. Emily Rothman, associate professor at Boston University School of Public Health recently, published a study on dating violence among teenagers in December of 2010 in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. She surveyed around 1,500 students from the Boston area. Rothman found that:
… Nearly 19% of students reported physically abusing a romantic partner in the past month, including pushing, shoving, hitting, punching, kicking or choking. Nearly 43% reported verbally abusing their partner, cursing at them or calling them fat, ugly, stupid or some other insult.”
- Domestic Violence — Break the Cycle (womensphilanthropy.typepad.com)
- Campaign against teen dating violence is launched (mysanantonio.com)
- Teen dating violence: no school protocol for reporting/counseling (californiaschildren.typepad.com)
- U.S. High Schools Lax in Preventing Dating Abuse (nlm.nih.gov)
- Wear Your R-E-S-P-E-C-T (fabsugar.com)
- Most U.S. Schools Do Not Train Staff in Preventing Dating Violence Among Teens (healthychildren.org)
- Boston advises teens on how to break up _ safely (sacbee.com)
- Teenage victims of domestic violence targeted as definition is extended (guardian.co.uk)
I’ve believed for years that our country’s undue emphasis on “law and order” and punishment over addressing the root causes of crime has damaged communities and individual lives. Findings in this book reinforces my strong reservations of reacting to problems out of fear rather than building people up.
Black women in poor neighborhoods have faced increasing violence because public policy has focused on unconditional punishment, not prevention, according to a new book by a public policy expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Beth Richie, author of “Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation” (New York University Press, 2012) directs UIC’s Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy.
Harsh sentencing since 2000, especially for drug trafficking, combines with gender dynamics in black neighborhoods to propel some women into violent relationships and crime, Richie says.
“I define the ‘male violence matrix’ as violence against women that has its roots in patriarchal arrangements, as well as by communities, institutions, and agencies organized around patriarchal power and male supremacy,” said Richie, who is professor of African American studies and gender and women’s studies at UIC.
Most political responses to the culture of punishment address its effect on men, Richie said.
“While the impact on men is clear, there are also significant ways that women experience the negative effects of the prison nation, especially those women who also experience gender violence.”……
- “Losing the Movement:” Black Women, Violence, And Prison Nation (racialicious.com)
- Understanding the ‘Violence Matrix’ (theroot.com)
This is one response to how to lower the high murder rate rate in Chicago (5,056 since 2001). The author believes that many victims of violence react with shock in much the same manner as soldiers with PTSD. These victims will most likely grow up angry with greater potential to use violence to solve problems unless they are worked with, much like returning soldiers from a war zone.
The Real Problem: Trauma
I spent a summer in the ER of a Level 1 trauma center in Chicago. Gunshot victims would come in, and they couldn’t believe what had happened to them. It was traumatic in the truest sense – their bodies were broken and put into shock. But their mind and spirit were as well: it was a jarring experience all around for them. But not only for them. Mothers and aunties and cousins and baby mommas were going crazy too. A light bulb turned on: This situation is traumatic for them too! They need care as well.
And so the idea of “care” was expanding from physical to psycho-spiritual, and from patient to family. Everybody involved was a victim of trauma here.
I began to look into this idea of “trauma” and found that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the result of unfettered moments of shock that continue to reside in the body: the brain and body never return to “normal,” and will erupt in erratic behavior. Think of a geyser here. Hot springs are the result of spontaneous combustion of something that happened in a river far away and a long time ago. What if this is true with humans?
We already know it is. One study on inner-city kids in Chicago showed that children who were exposed to violence or witness a violent act were much more likely to demonstrate aggressive behavior within one year of exposure. PTSD also carries symptoms of depression, which contribute to feelings of meaninglessness in self and the world (thus devaluing another human life enough to take it). This is all very scientific and I want to get to the point:
Our children are being put into shock every single day.
They are experiencing violence as perpetrator, victim, and witness, and they are no less exposed to the trauma. The trauma of being poor….
One Real Solution
Chicago has been called a “warzone” – let’s play with that a moment. Maybe the best thing a small church can do to stop the violence is work with our children like we work with our returning soldiers. (We need to do this better as well). Vets need safe space to talk. They need to give voice to experiences and be able to create new ways of understanding themselves—it’s called moving from “soldier” to “human” again.
Our children need to understand themselves not as black or poor orat-risk but as HUMAN first. They need to develop meaning to confront the meaninglessness that surrounds them. This angry and dark world is traumatic for children, and they will grow up angry and dark unless we help them process what they have seen. Finding one’s own voice is critical to meaning-making. Some of them are not soldiers, but they are all in the war.
- Embattled Childhood: The Real Trauma in PTSD (psychologicalscience.org)
- The Psychology of Resilience (psychologicalscience.org)
- Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga: An Interview with David Emerson. (elephantjournal.com)
- The legacy of childhood trauma (beyondmeds.com)
- The Road to Recovery – Promoting Resiliency in First Responders, and Others Who Witness Trauma on a Regular Basis (downwindwalk.wordpress.com)
- June is National Post Traumatic Stress Month (jeanettebartha.wordpress.com)
The link to the video and additional material may be found here.
The video may be viewed in its original format (with graphic language) or the broadcast version.
On Feb. 14, FRONTLINE presents the television premiere of the award-winning documentaryThe Interrupters, the moving story of three dedicated “violence interrupters”—Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra—who, with bravado, humility and even humor, work to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they themselves once employed. Their work and their insights are informed by their own journeys, which, as each of them points out, defy easy characterization.
From acclaimed producer-director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and best-selling author-turned-producer Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here), The Interrupters is an unusually intimate journey into the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities. The New York Timessays the film “has put a face to a raging epidemic and an unforgivable American tragedy.”
The interrupters work for an innovative organization, CeaseFire, which is the brainchild of epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, who for 10 years battled the spread of cholera and AIDS in Africa. Slutkin believes that the spread of violence mimics that of infectious diseases, and so the treatment should be similar: Go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source.
Shot over the course of a year out of Kartemquin Films in Chicago, The Interrupters follows Ameena, Eddie and Cobe as they attempt to intervene in situations before those situations turn violent: two brothers threatening to shoot each other; an angry teenage girl just home from prison; a young man heading down a warpath of revenge. The film captures not only the interrupters’ work, but reveals their own inspired journeys from crime to hope and, ultimately, redemption. As they venture into their communities, they confront the importance of family, the noxious nature of poverty and the place of race. And they do it with incredible candor and directness.
- Frontline, tonight: The Interrupters (chicagoreader.com)
- ‘The Interrupters’: Documentary On Youth Crime Spotlights Ex-Gang Members Who Try To Prevent Violence (huffingtonpost.com)
- Must See: ‘The Interrupters,’ a film about Stoping the Violence in Chicago (clutchmagonline.com)
- ‘The Interrupters’ on Frontline on 14 February (Mixed Media) (popmatters.com)
- Ameena Matthews Of The Interrupters Appeared On The Colbert Report (chicagoist.com)
- Crisis interruptus (theage.com.au)
- The Best Indie / International Films of 2011 (Feature) (popmatters.com)
- The Interrupters (noframeof.wordpress.com)
A father in Louisiana bludgeoned and beheaded his disabled 7-year-old son last August because he no longer wanted to care for the boy. For most people, such a heinous act is unconscionable.
But it may be that a person can become callous enough to commit human atrocities because of a failure in the part of the brain that’s critical for social interaction. A new study by researchers at Duke University and Princeton University suggests this function may disengage when people encounter others they consider disgusting, thus “dehumanizing” their victims by failing to acknowledge they have thoughts and feelings.
This shortcoming also may help explain how propaganda depicting Tutsi in Rwanda as cockroaches and Hitler’s classification of Jews in Nazi Germany as vermin contributed to torture and genocide, the study said.
“When we encounter a person, we usually infer something about their minds. Sometimes, we fail to do this, opening up the possibility that we do not perceive the person as fully human,” said lead author Lasana Harris, an assistant professor in Duke University’s Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. Harris co-authored the study with Susan Fiske, a professor of psychology at Princeton University.
Social neuroscience has shown through MRI studies that people normally activate a network in the brain related to social cognition — thoughts, feelings, empathy, for example — when viewing pictures of others or thinking about their thoughts. But when participants in this study were asked to consider images of people they considered drug addicts, homeless people, and others they deemed low on the social ladder, parts of this network failed to engage.
What’s especially striking, the researchers said, is that people will easily ascribe social cognition — a belief in an internal life such as emotions — to animals and cars, but will avoid making eye contact with the homeless panhandler in the subway.
“We need to think about other people’s experience,” Fiske said. “It’s what makes them fully human to us.”…
- A brain’s failure to appreciate others may permit human atrocities (esciencenews.com)
- A brain’s failure to appreciate others may permit human atrocities (eurekalert.org)
- Why Leaders Should Care About Cognitive Neuroscience (forbes.com)
- Scientists’ Idea Helps Explain ‘What and Where’ People See (prnewswire.com)
- Wisdom through Mindfulness: Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation (adultadhdhelp.net)
[Author's note...on a hopeful note.... a number of researchers have concluded that violence overall has decreased within the human race over the past millenia. Am currently reading Steven Pinker's book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined.]
From the UMD news release at Eureka Alerts
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Over the past decade, attacks and plots by homegrown terrorists in the United States have increased, the work of extremists from across the political spectrum – roughly 40 percent of it by so-called ‘lone wolf,’ non-aligned actors – says an analysis by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) based at the University of Maryland.
The statistics underscore the threat addressed in a White House plan released Thursday: Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States – a blueprint for “building community resilience against violent extremism.”
“There have been more than 200 terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11, but what has really increased is the total number of foiled terrorist plots,” says UMD researcher and START director Gary LaFree, who has developed the largest and most comprehensive unclassified terrorism database in the world with funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“Our researchers have tracked over 100 foiled plots in the past decade,” LaFree adds. “Most of these would be classified as homegrown terrorism.”
The new White House plan follows up on a strategy first laid out last August, and discussed at UMD by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in October.
“The facts make it clear – homegrown, violent extremism is not just a problem for other countries,” LaFree explains. “The administration plan confronts this reality by providing a strategy that draws heavily on local communities as the key to prevention.”
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism—better known as START – is a university-based research center committed to the scientific study of the causes and human consequences of terrorism in the United States and around the world.
Based at the University of Maryland, START supports research efforts of leading social scientists at more than 50 academic and research institutions, each of whom is conducting original investigations into fundamental questions about terrorism, including:
- Under what conditions does an individual or a group turn to terrorism to pursue its goals? What is the nature of the radicalization process?
- What attack patterns have different terrorists demonstrated during the past forty years? How has terrorist behavior evolved? And, what does this indicate about likely future terrorist activity?
- What impact does terrorism and the threat of terrorism have on communities, and how can societies enhance their resilience to minimize the potential impacts of future attacks?
- Growing US violent extremism by the numbers: UMD database (physorg.com)
- Is The Government Omitting Anti-Abortion Violence From Its Main Terrorism Database? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Counterterrorism Czar Resists Muslim Labels, As Critics Say Right-Wing Threat Looms Larger (huffingtonpost.com)
- Beyond Guantánamo, a web of prisons (thehindu.com)
- Federal prisons hold scores linked to terrorism (sfgate.com)
- Assessing the Impact of 9/11 (mpoverello.wordpress.com)
- US believers favor international action on climate change, nuclear risk: UMD poll (eurekalert.org)
- Far right domestic terrorism on par with foreign threat, experts say (cnn.com)
Are doing harm and allowing harm equivalent? Ask fMRI
Actions trigger immediate indignance. Evaluating passive harms requires more thought
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — People typically say they are invoking an ethical principle when they judge acts that cause harm more harshly than willful inaction that allows that same harm to occur. That difference is even codified in criminal law. A new study based on brain scans, however, shows that people make that moral distinction automatically. Researchers found that it requires conscious reasoning to decide that active and passive behaviors that are equally harmful are equally wrong.
For example (see below), an overly competitive figure skater in one case loosens the skate blade of a rival, or in another case, notices that the blade is loose and fails to warn anyone. In both cases, the rival skater loses the competition and is seriously injured. Whether it is by acting, or willfully failing to act, the overly competitive skater did the same harm.
“What it looks like is when you see somebody actively harm another person that triggers a strong automatic response,” said Brown University psychologist Fiery Cushman. “You don’t have to think very deliberatively about it. You just perceive it as morally wrong. When a person allows harm that they could easily prevent, that actually requires more carefully controlled deliberative thinking [to view as wrong].”
A new study published today in the international journal Addiction demonstrates that even small changes in pub and bar closing hours seem to affect the number of violent incidents. The findings suggest that a one-hour extension of bar closing hours led to an increase of an average of 20 violent cases at night on weekends per 100,000 people per year. This represents an increase in violence of approximately 16 percent.
The results suggest that the effect occurs both ways. In other words, reducing trading hours by one hour leads to a decrease in violence of the same magnitude as the increase in violence seen if closing hours are increased by one hour.
Lead author Professor Ingeborg Rossow said “These findings echo the results from studies from around the world that you see more violence in cities when you extend trading hours.”
The study is based on data from 18 Norwegian cities that expanded or restricted their closing hours by up to two hours in the decade 2000 – 2010. Researchers examined whether these changes affected violence in the city centre on weekend nights. Violence outside the town during the same time window, which was not likely to be affected by changes in closing hours, was used as a control for other factors.
In these 18 cities weekend closing hours were between one and three at night, early by comparison to many cities around the world.
These findings come more than a year after the Norwegian government proposed reducing sales hours for on-premises trading to reduce violence and public nuisance. The proposal was supported by police commissioners but rejected by alcohol businesses and right wing political parties who claimed that reduced sales hours would not reduce violence.
Study co-author Professor Thor Norström said “These findings hold important implications for communities around the world who are struggling to deal with the massive burden of alcohol-related harm. If you want to reduce alcohol-related harm, restricting trading hours of licensed venues seems to be an effective measure.”
Full citation: Rossow I. and Norström T. The impact of small changes in bar closing hours on violence: The Norwegian experience from 18 cities. Addiction, 106: doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03643.x
Addiction (www.addictionjournal.org) is a monthly international scientific journal publishing more than 2000 pages every year. Owned by the Society for the Study of Addiction, it has been in continuous publication since 1884.
- Norwegian study finds opening bars longer increases violence (physorg.com)
- Link between alcohol and harm is stronger in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden than in Italy (eurekalert.org)
The density of businesses that sell alcohol in a community has been tied to local levels of violence, but new research has found that the influence depends on the nature of the community. More stable communities can see little to no influence but more disorganized communities are not so fortunate. Communities with greater levels of disorganization, marked by higher percentages of people living in poverty and in women-headed households with children and more renters, were hit the hardest by the presence of the liquor establishments…
- Coping With Neighborhood Violence (relifeinc.wordpress.com)
Violence in the City: Understanding and Supporting Community Responses to Urban Violence” is the first global study of urban violence conducted by the World Bank, and incorporates case studies from urban communities in Brazil (Fortaleza), Haiti (Port-au-Prince), Kenya (Nairobi), South Africa (Johannesburg) and Timor-Leste (Dili).
For millions of people around the world, violence, or the fear of violence, is a daily reality. Much of this violence concentrates in urban centers in the developing world. Cities are now home to half the world’s population and expected to absorb almost all new population growth over the next 25 years. In many cases, the scale of urban violence can eclipse those of open warfare; some of the world’s highest homicide rates occur in countries that have not undergone a war, but that have serious epidemics of violence in urban areas. This study emerged out of a growing recognition that urban communities themselves are an integral part of understanding the causes and impacts of urban violence and of generating sustainable violence prevention initiatives.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has addressed violence as a public health issue since at least 1979 (CDC Timeline of Violence as a Public Health Issue).
New Data: Cost of Violent Deaths
In the United States, violence accounts for approximately 51,000 deaths annually. Estimating the size of this economic burden is helpful in understanding the resources that could be saved if cost-effective violence prevention efforts were applied.
Violence is a significant problem in the United States (U.S.). From infants to the elderly, it affects people in all stages of life. In 2006, 18,573 people died as a result of homicide and 33,300 took their own life. The number of violent deaths tells only part of the story. Many more survive violence and are left with permanent physical and emotional scars. Violence also erodes communities by reducing productivity, decreasing property values, and disrupting social services.
While the CDC does have violence prevention resources for public health professionals, it also has resources for the rest of us.
The Violence Prevention page includes resources on these topics. Many have hotline phone numbers.
- Mental and Psychological Effects of Children’s Cartoons (vatopaidi.wordpress.com)
- Build Healthy Teen Relationships To Prevent Teen Dating Violence (connectwithyourteens.net)
- LGBT Domestic Violence Assistance Programs React To Murder Of Gay Man By Husband (pinkbananaworld.com)
- Leading Workplace Violence Prevention Consulting Firm Acquires The Leading Workplace Violence Prevention Magazine (prweb.com)
- Toronto police, social group team up for conference on South Asian family violence (theglobeandmail.com)
- The intersection of psychology and public health (Monitor on Psychology, April 2011)
“ At the CDC, Rodney Hammond worked to improve health for entire populations. As he retires, he predicts that the United States will need even more behavioral expertise to address burgeoning public health problems.”"
Looking back on your career, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am really pleased that the CDC has taken a lead role in promoting the notion that violence is preventable. When CDC started working on violence prevention, the work was primarily focused on collecting and reporting data on violence. Then we moved toward developing evidence-based prevention strategies. Now we are working on community capacity building. We are poised now to help communities implement evidence-based prevention programs to reduce violence.
One violence-prevention program I’d like to highlight is called STRYVE, (www.safeyouth.gov), which stands for Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere. It includes an online tool that is allowing local groups to network, assess conditions and share information about gaps in their communities that need to be filled by strong violence-prevention strategies. “
Going forward, what do you think are the greatest opportunities for violence prevention?
You’re going to see more collaboration among government agencies, community groups and law enforcement. There’s no one model yet, but these collaborations might involve police referring people to programs in the community. Or it might involve using violence data — for instance, information about who is coming into hospitals for treatment after an assault — and determining which parts of a community are most at risk and what circumstances surround these injures, and targeting community resources accordingly.”
What role do you think psychology has to play in the future of public health?
I’ve noticed that many psychologists are getting master’s degrees in public health or just taking courses in public health during their doctoral training. Their involvement in the public health system will be very beneficial because some of the top public health problems — obesity, violence and smoking — have a lot to do with behavior. Psychologists bring unique expertise in how behavior can be influenced and how healthy behavior can be encouraged.”
From the Medical News Today article, 20 April 2011
We are fascinated with the lurid details of sensational murder trials. Horror fiction and slasher movies thrill us – the gorier the better. When we drive by the scene of an accident, we’re compelled to slow down. And it’s no secret that brutal video games are solid moneymakers. Why do we thirst for the frighteningly grotesque? In The “LUST FOR BLOOD: WHY WE ARE FASCINATED BY DEATH, MURDER, HORROR, AND VIOLENCE” (Prometheus Books, $25) veteran psychologist Jeffrey A. Kottler explains our dark desire for guts, gore, and the gruesome. …
…[Kottler] ably explores our paradoxical lust and revulsion as a cathartic means of restraint, with specific attention to its psychological impact: seeing violence within a media frame makes us feel alive, recharging us to face our private anxieties about life-and-death issues. This book offers something for everyone, from media psychologists to fans of splatter-films,” said Ramsland.
Kottler considers ideas from a variety of theories and research to explain our responses to violence, raises questions about the shifting line between normal and abnormal, evaluates the confusion and ambivalence that many people feel when witnessing others’ suffering, and suggests future trends in society’s attitudes toward violence.
About the Author:
Jeffrey A. Kottler, PhD, is a practicing psychologist, professor of counseling at California State University, Fullerton, and the author of more than seventy-five books, including the New York Times best seller “The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer.” He is also head of Empower Nepali Girls, which provides educational scholarships for at-risk, lower-caste girls.
- Youth Violence Symptom of Untreated Depression – Not Video Games (brain4biz.wordpress.com)
- Do Violent Video Games Really Make Us Violent(Medical News Today)?
“Drs Simon Goodson and Sarah Pearson, who both lecture in Psychology, have revealed how playing a sporting video game is more emotionally evocative than a violent one.”
- Careful with Violent Video Games (brain4biz.wordpress.com)
- Influence of Media Violence on Youth (Psychological Science in the Public Interest)
- Play Violent Video Games, Just Don’t Think About Them (fyiliving.com)
- Research On The Multiple Dimensions Of Video Game Effects (May 10, 2011, Medical News Today)”A new article by Gentile appearing in the journal Child Development Perspectivesargues that existing video game literature can’t be classified in black and white terms. Instead, there’s a vast grey area when considering the multiple dimensions of video game effects on children and adolescents.Gentile writes that there are at least five dimensions on which video games can affect players simultaneously – amount of play, content of play, game context, structure of the game, and the mechanics of game play. “
- REPORT – Gamers May Not be Desensitized by Violent Video Games (gonintendo.com)
- Do Video Games Hone Players’ Killer Instincts? Not So Much (reason.com)
- War: It’s not like a video game (preternaturalpost.wordpress.com)
- What you don’t know can hurt you: Violence, catharsis, and video games (psychologytoday.com)
TUESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) — The more adolescent boys absorb violence in media such as movies, television shows and video games, the less sensitive certain areas of their brains become to these images, researchers report.
And those areas of the brain are the ones involved in controlling aggression, notes a study published Oct. 19 in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
It’s possible that these boys might become more aggressive later in life (although the study didn’t actually track this), but a larger societal desensitization may be taking place that might be even more troublesome, the researchers said.
“There are always going to be people who are violent no matter what they’re exposed to,” said study senior author Jordan Grafman. “What’s even more dangerous is when society accepts such behaviors. . . If something becomes acceptable, then those who are creating the violence and aggressive behavior are allowed to get away with it more because society is not going to police it as much.”
Prior studies have indicated that violent media can make people more violent, but this is one of the first studies into how that mechanism plays out in the brain.
Full article in the October 19th issue of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
Article is available only by paid subscription. The article may be available at or through a local public, academic, or medical library. A library fee may be charged. Ask a reference librarian for details on how to obtain this and other medical/science journal articles.
Mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder alone do not make people more violent, but the tendency of people with psychiatric problems to abuse drugs or alcohol does, scientists said on Monday.
Researchers from Britain and Sweden who studied rates of violent crime among people with severe mental disorders said it appeared that the higher risk of substance abuse is the key.
They found that while rates of violent crime are higher among people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia than in the general population, they are similar in people with mental illness and those who abuse substances but are not mentally ill.
When the results were adjusted to removed the influence of alcohol or illegal drug abuse, rates of violence among psychiatric patients were barely changed from levels in the general population, they said.
“Substance abuse is really the key mediator of violent crime. If you take away the substance abuse, the contribution of the illness…is very minimal,” said Seena Fazel of Oxford University’s department of psychiatry, who led a study.41.663938 -83.555212
“More and more violent crimes are occurring in America’s hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities, according to a new alert issued by the Joint Commission, an independent health care oversight group.
Since 2004, there have been “significant increases in reports of assault, rape and homicide, with the greatest number of reports in the last three years,” the group said in its “Sentinel Event Alert” released last week, the latest in a series of alerts on serious adverse events occurring in health care settings.”
Possible factors include increases in drug and alcohol abuse, lack of adequate care for psychiatric patients, and frustrations with a flawed health care system.
“The alert also spells out 13 specific steps that health care facilities should take to prevent violence..”
Click here for full news article.
- Leading Workplace Violence Prevention Consulting Firm Acquires The Leading Workplace Violence Prevention Magazine (prweb.com)
- Understanding patient violence against health care workers (kevinmd.com)
- Confronting Violence In The Health Care Workplace (Medical News Today, April 2011)
An online training and resource center is being developed, to be hosted at the US National Occupational Safety and Health Web site