Cover image for Murder is no accident : understanding and preventing youth violence in America
Murder is no accident : understanding and preventing youth violence in America
Prothrow-Stith, Deborah, 1954-
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, [2004]

Physical Description:
vi, 279 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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HQ799.2.V56 P76 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
HQ799.2.V56 P76 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Authors Deborah Prothrow-Stith and Howard R. Spivak-- two prominent Boston-area public health officials who played leading roles in that city's turnaround-- show that the key to Boston's success was creating an interdisciplinary citywide movement. The city's movement-- made up of educators, community leaders, police officers, emergency room workers, activist teens, teen and family member survivors of violence, and many others-- worked for more than ten years to implement multifaceted preventive programs that confronted each risk factor for youth violence, including
Positive Role Models : Peer mentoring and teacher-training programs Healthy and Safe Communities: Youth centers, after-school programs, and other organized recreational activities Poverty : Economic stimulus policies to help reduce poverty in inner-city and rural areas Pro-Social Behaviors : Conflict resolution and violence prevention curricula in schools Domestic Violence : Home visitation programs and screening to protect kids from domestic violence Gun Buybacks: Reduction in the number of firearms on the streets

Author Notes

Deborah Prothrow-Stith, M.D., is associate dean for faculty development and professor of public health practice at the Harvard School of Public Health. As a physician working in inner-city hospitals and neighborhood clinics, she recognized violence as a significant public health issue. In 1987 she established the first office of violence prevention in a state department of public health while serving as commissioner for the Department of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Howard R. Spivak, M.D., is chief of the division of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine and vice president for community health programs at New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. He is professor of pediatrics and community health at Tufts University School of Medicine and director of the Tufts University Center for Children. He cofounded the Boston Violence Prevention Program and is nationally recognized for his work in pediatrics and violence prevention.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Prothrow-Stith, a black female physician, and Spivak, a Jewish doctor, offer the strong message that violence is a preventable public-health problem. In part 1, they offer horrific statistics on violence among our youth and the recollections of people who have lost friends and relatives through gang violence, and analyze the three waves of the violence epidemic: first, among the inner-city poor; second, in rural and suburban areas; and third, involving girls dubbed Rambettes. Part 2 explores some of the causes--including the violence portrayed on television and in video games--and the risk factors for particular juveniles. Part 3 focuses on the authors' creation of the first violence prevention program in the U.S. in 1983. Part 4 offers valuable lessons learned and advice on how to start similar programs to reduce the leading cause of death and disability among American children. This is a compelling look at youth violence and a valuable resource for parents, educators, and public-health practitioners. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Prothrow-Stith, a Harvard School of Public Health associate dean and professor, and Spivak, New England Medical Center's chief of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine, bring impressive credentials and two decades each of experience in medicine, public health and violence prevention to this essential primer on adolescent violence. In impassioned, colloquial prose, the authors delineate the causes of teen violence (e.g., easy access to weapons; violent entertainment); elucidate past approaches, including police intervention for urban youth and mental health intervention for suburban youth; explain the impact of racism and classism on teen violence; offer first-person testimonies as exhortations; and detail ploys to combat the problem before it hits any more crisis points like the Columbine disaster or Los Angeles's street gang wars. The authors also reveal their backgrounds in order to break down stereotypes about violence: Prothrow-Stith's African-American family was close-knit and nurturing, Spivak's Bronx Jewish family excessively violent. But there's no discussion of the trend toward prosecuting teens as adults or of the fact that the U.S. remains one of only three nations worldwide to execute teens. The nexus of the authors' argument: violence is preventable, but it does "take a village." Demonizing youth, treating teens of color differently from white teens and focusing on crisis intervention rather than preventives are mistakes that have intensified rather than precluded violence, they say, insisting on recognition of violence as a public health issue. This is a solid and heartfelt contribution to a major concern in our country. Agent, Kristen Wainwright. (Nov.) Forecast: Blurbs from Sen. Ted Kennedy and Marian Wright Edelman bespeak support for Prothrow-Stith and Spivak's approach. Prothrow-Stith has discussed teen violence in many public forums, including Nightline and Oprah. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Prothrow-Stith (public health practice, Harvard Sch. of Public Health) and Spivak (pediatrics & community health, Tufts Univ. Sch. of Medicine) begin with the premise that violence is not inevitable. They describe "a world gone mad" where murder and violent death are common aspects of children's lives, citing a recent study of 26 industrialized nations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that about 73 percent of all child homicides occur in the United States. Why? Several risk factors are delineated: poverty, alcohol use, guns, media, and witnessing violence. The authors point to the great success of Boston officials in decreasing juvenile murder rates over the last 20 years; also offered are compelling arguments against zero-tolerance policies, TV violence as entertainment, and demonizing young black men. No single explanation as to why the "Boston Model" works as well as it does is given, implying that dealing with youth violence requires sensitivity of thought. A concluding chapter summarizes lessons learned, e.g., that forgiveness is a strategy. An excellent addition to public libraries, this work is far more comprehensive than Betsy McAlister Groves's Children Who See Too Much, which describes Boston's Child Witness to Violence Project.-Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Part 1 The Problemp. 9
1. A Shocked America: The Epidemic Spreadsp. 11
2. Who Are We?p. 27
Part 2 Issues and Solutionsp. 37
3. What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?p. 39
4. Understanding Risk and Resiliencyp. 53
5. Guns: Escalating the Consequencesp. 71
6. It's the Television, Stupidp. 97
7. The Demonization of Youthp. 113
8. Girls and Violence: Rambettesp. 129
9. Violence at Homep. 147
Part 3 What Happened in Bostonp. 163
10. Violence Is Preventablep. 165
11. The Movement Growsp. 189
Part 4 Lessons Learnedp. 209
12. There Is No One Modelp. 211
13. The System Is Part of the Problemp. 227
14. Going Into the Futurep. 243
Notesp. 259
Further Readingp. 267
About the Authorsp. 269
Indexp. 271