Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) director, legislators and other public health officials at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago to kick-off National Youth Violence Prevention Week. The governor encouraged access to resources and non-violent conflict resolution as part of his agenda to increase public safety and protect Illinois' youth.
"Every child in Illinois deserves a chance to have a bright, healthy future," Governor Quinn said. "We must stop the violence now and work on solutions to protect this vulnerable generation."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 14 people ages 10 to 24 are murdered every day in the United States. Each year, almost 740,000 children and youth are treated in hospital emergency departments - more than 84 youths every hour - as a result of violence. Young African-American and Latino men and children are disproportionately impacted, with the highest homicide rates of any group.
"Youth violence is a serious problem, but it is preventable," IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said, a former lead scientist for the CDC Division of Violence Prevention and co-author of a Surgeon General's Report on Youth Violence in 2001. "It is a legitimate public health concern - as significant as exposure to secondhand smoke, a severe influenza outbreak or a contaminated water supply."
"In many ways, the problem of youth violence is more complex than even the most rare health conditions we treat at Lurie Children's," Karen Sheehan, MD, Attending Physician at Lurie Children's and Medical Director of its violence prevention consortium, Strengthening Chicago's Youth (SCY) said. "At the same time, it is important for every individual and organization to know that they can play a role in preventing violence. We applaud Governor Quinn and Dr. Hasbrouck for their leadership on this critical issue."
There are many risk factors that can lead to youth violence such as past victimization, family conflict, rejection by peers, drugs, alcohol and a lack of community involvement. There are also several protective factors to help prevent youth violence including mentoring, parental training and involvement, non-violent conflict resolution, social skill building and support systems in the community.
For more information about youth violence prevention resources, please visit www.idph.state.il.us.