Murder Is No Accident : Understanding and Preventing Youth Violence in America / Edition 1

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There are solutions to teen homicide and violence. Murder Is NoAccident shows how one city broke its cycle of killing, provingthat youth violence is not inevitable. During the early 1990s inBoston, youth violence and criminal activity were at epidemicproportions, and nearly one juvenile homicide occurred every month.Remarkably, by the end of the decade, there were no juvenilehomicides, and the overall juvenile crime and violence rates haddramatically declined.

Authors Deborah Prothrow-Stith and Howard R. Spivak–twoprominent Boston-area public health officials who played leadingroles in that city’s turnaround–show that the key toBoston’s success was creating an interdisciplinary citywidemovement. The city’s movement–made up of educators,community leaders, police officers, emergency room workers,activist teens, teen and family member survivors of violence, andmany others–worked for more than ten years to implementmultifaceted preventive programs that confronted each risk factorfor youth violence, including

  • Positive Role Models: Peer mentoring and teacher-trainingprograms
  • Healthy and Safe Communities: Youth centers, after-schoolprograms, and other organized recreational activities
  • Poverty: Economic stimulus policies to help reduce poverty ininner-city and rural areas
  • Pro-Social Behaviors: Conflict resolution and violenceprevention curricula in schools
  • Domestic Violence: Home visitation programs and screening toprotect kids from domestic violence
  • Gun Buybacks: Reduction in the number of firearms on thestreets

Boston became the nation’s premier success story for youthviolence prevention. Your city can do it too. In this vitalresource, Drs. Deborah Prothrow-Stith and Howard R. Spivak combinetheir impassioned message for violence prevention with a wealth ofresearch, personal stories, and information, giving thenation’s leaders and concerned citizens a powerful tool forpreventing youth violence in their own neighborhoods andsurrounding communities.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Written in a clear, personable style, the book is a thoughtfulread for anyone working in youth violence prevention." (YouthToday, 12/03)

Prothrow-Stith, a Harvard School of Public Health associate deanand professor, and Spivak, New England Medical Center's chief ofgeneral pediatrics and adolescent medicine, bring impressivecredentials and two decades each of experience in medicine, publichealth and violence prevention to this essential primer onadolescent violence. In impassioned, colloquial prose, the authorsdelineate the causes of teen violence (e.g., easy access toweapons; violent entertainment); elucidate past approaches,including police intervention for urban youth and mental healthintervention for suburban youth; explain the impact of racism andclassism on teen violence; offer first-person testimonies asexhortations; and detail ploys to combat the problem before it hitsany more crisis points like the Columbine disaster or Los Angeles'sstreet gang wars. The authors also reveal their backgrounds inorder to break down stereotypes about violence: Prothrow-Stith'sAfrican-American family was close-knit and nurturing. Spivak'sBronx Jewish family excessively violent. But there's no discussionof the trend toward prosecuting teens as adults or of the fact thatthe U. S. remains one of only three nations worldwide to executeteens. The nexus of the authors' argument: violence is pr4ventable,but id does "take a village." Demonizing youth, treating teens ofcolor differently from white teens and focusing on crisisintervention rather than preventives are mistakes that haveintensified rather than precluded violence, they say, insisting onrecognition of violence as a public health issue. This is a solidand heartfelt contribution to a major concern in our country.Agent, Kristen Wainwright. (Nov.)
Forecast: Blurbs from Sen. Ted Kennedy and Marian WrightEdelman bespeak support for Prothrow-Stith and Spivak's approach.Prothrow-Stith has discussed teen violence in many public forums,including Nightline and Oprah. (Publishers Weekly, September8, 2003)

Prothrow-Stith (public health practice, Harvard Sch. of PublicHealth) and Spivak (pediatrics & community health, Tufts Univ.Sch. of Medicine) begin with the premise that violence is notinevitable. They describe "a world gone mad" where murder andviolent death are common aspects of children's lives, citing arecent study of 26 industrialized nations by the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention indicating that about 73 percent ofall child homicides occur in the United States. Why? Several riskfactors are delineated: poverty, alcohol use, guns, media, andwitnessing violence. The authors point to the great success ofBoston officials in decreasing juvenile murder rates over the last20 years; also offered are compelling arguments againstzero-tolerance policies, TV violence as entertainment, anddemonizing young black men. No single explanation as to why the"Boston Model" works as well as it does is given, implying thatdealing with youth violence requires sensitivity of thought. Aconcluding chapter summarizes lessons learned, e.g., thatforgiveness is a strategy. An excellent addition to publiclibraries, this work is far more comprehensive than Betsy McAlisterGroves's Children Who See Too Much, which describes Boston's ChildWitness to Violence Project. —Linda Beck, Indian Valley Pl.,Telford, PA (Library Journal, November 15, 2003)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787969806
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 12/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,177,400
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Prothrow-Stith, M.D., is associate dean for facultydevelopment and professor of public health practice at the HarvardSchool of Public Health. As a physician working in inner-cityhospitals and neighborhood clinics, she recognized violence as asignificant public health issue. In 1987 she established the firstoffice of violence prevention in a state department of publichealth while serving as commissioner for the Department of PublicHealth for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Howard R. Spivak, M.D., is chief of the division of generalpediatrics and adolescent medicine and vice president for communityhealth programs at New England Medical Center in Boston,Massachusetts. He is professor of pediatrics and community healthat Tufts University School of Medicine and director of the TuftsUniversity Center for Children. He cofounded the Boston ViolencePrevention Program and is nationally recognized for his work inpediatrics and violence prevention.

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Table of Contents


Part One: The Problem.

1. A Shocked America: The Epidemic Spreads.

2. Who Are We?

Part Two: Issues and Solutions.

3. What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?

4. Understanding Risk and Resiliency.

5. Guns: Escalating the Consequences.

6. It’s the Television, Stupid.

7. The Demonization of Youth.

8. Girls and Violence: Rambettes.

9. Violence at Home.

Part Three: What Happened in Boston.

10. Violence Is Preventable.

11. The Movement Grows.

Part Four: Lessons Learned.

12. There Is No One Model.

13. The System Is Part of the Problem.

14. Going Into the Future.


Further Reading.

About the Authors.


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