Morehouse Medical College Seeks Prescription for School Violence
ATLANTA — With the recent spate of violence directed at students — both in colleges and in high schools — there is a growing interest in finding ways to prevent such behavior. And while governments and community organizations work to come up with a solution, some of the nation’s medical schools — like Morehouse Medical College — are looking to make a serious contribution to the discussion.
According to a story in the Association of American Medical Colleges’ newspaper, Reporter, Morehouse — the only medical school participating in the Hamilton Fish National Institute on School and Community Violence, headquartered at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and funded by the Department of Justice — has created a Violence Prevention Program. The historically Black institution adopted Atlanta’s Turner Middle School as the focus of the program.
“We went into the middle school and talked to everyone — from students to administrators to teachers — about their impressions of school and community violence, and the causes of it,” Dr. Omowale Amuleru-Marshall, the project’s head and the director of Morehouse’s Center for Public Health Practice, says. “What we found was that concerns fell into four areas: school management, pedagogical practices, behavior codes, and the physical environment.”
In response to those findings, Morehouse created several initiatives designed to address the problems. The Amani Project is an after-school program for fifth graders that prepares them for handling potentially violent encounters in the upper grades. The Safe School Project provides a simple preventative measure — bright lighting for the dimly lit areas of the school. Additionally, first-year students enrolled in Morehouse’s community health course spend their first semester conducting a communitywide assessment of violence in preparation for the second semester’s community forums.
“The advantage of having a medical school in the [seven-member] consortium is that they bring a combination of pediatrics knowledge and the public health perspective of environmental medicine,” Dr. Paul Kingery, director of the Hamilton Fish Institute, says.
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