Temple joins multi-university violence prevention study
To staunch the rising epidemic of youth violence, three Philadelphia universities, including Temple, are coming together in a rare collaboration. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Philadelphia Collaborative Violence Prevention Center (PCVPC) unites the expertise of Temple University, Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania and project leader, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
The PCVPC will work directly with community groups to study and learn what can be done to prevent violence among youth, specifically children aged 10-14, in an effort to intervene before trouble starts. The focus is working with youth at an early stage to give them the tools and support to both avoid the path to violence and be resilient in the face of it.
The focus on pre- and early teens is critical because “after age 14, kids are declaring what path they are taking," said Joel Fein, M.D. a pediatric emergency physician at CHOP and director and principal investigator for the PCVPC.
Four cores form the PCVPC: administrative, information, communication and dissemination, and research, for which Alice Hausman, Ph.D., professor and chair of public health in Temple’s College of Health Professions, will serve as co-director.
At the heart of the PCVPC is the central research project, in which the researchers will gather, create and evaluate programs designed to influence children before their attraction to violence starts. Additionally, pilot research projects will be implemented to help researchers get a better understanding of how violence affects the lives of young people. The ultimate goal is to share and sustain successful programs in western and southwestern Philadelphia communities, in close collaboration with community members.
While the program initially targets specific Philadelphia communities, the researchers hope that project ultimately will help reduce violence throughout Philadelphia.
“With the PVCPC, there is tremendous emphasis placed on sharing what we learn with others from across the city, and the hope is that programs and lessons learned can be implemented elsewhere,” Hausman said.
— Kendra Snuffer
For Temple Health Sciences PR
|A longtime proponent of youth violence prevention
Paul Fink, a professor of psychiatry at Temple University’s School of Medicine, is a longtime contributor to violence and crime prevention research. Former president of the American Psychiatric Association and current president of Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence, he partners with the city’s experts on a number of collaborative initiatives and programs designed to eliminate urban youth violence.
“Children aren’t born innately violent or bad,” Fink said. “We have to look at the environment and circumstances that inspire their violent behavior in order to see which crimes were preventable, or if they have any policy implications.”
An expert on trauma and abuse in children, in 1993 he was selected as chairman of the Youth Homicide Committee for Philadelphia, a group that meets every month to review all homicide and suicide cases among children up to 20 years old. In getting to the root of crime, Fink emphasizes the importance of parent and child development education.
“What most parents fail to realize is that their abusive treatment of children within the home will translate outside of the home,” Fink explained. “Destructive consequences of abuse can be easily prevented if parents show love, praise and understanding during these formative years.”
Recently, Fink was selected by state representative Dwight Evans to work on the Blueprint for a Safer Philadelphia, a 10-year, community-based initiative to eliminate youth violence in which Temple’s Alice Hausman also is involved.
While teaching medical students at Temple Hospital and undergraduates in the School of Medicine, Fink brings his hands-on experience to the classroom and contributes to programs including the Philadelphia Collaborative Violence Prevention Center.
|— Erin Cusack, for the Temple Times