Injury prevention starts in our community

Published 2:32pm Thursday, April 28, 2011

Unexpected injuries not only affect people at home, at work and in their communities, they also account for 12 percent of medical spending, totaling as much as $69 billion a year, says Southwest Health District Health Director Jacqueline Grant.

“During April, our 14-county health district hopes to raise awareness of injury prevention through our month-long campaign ‘Safety is No Accident: Live Injury-Free’,” said Grant. “Our concluding message is ‘Injury Prevention Starts in Our Community’.”

No one is immune to violence and injuries. But youth violence, which is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 10 to 24—is particularly worrisome, she said.

“Approximately 20 percent of high school students report being bullied at school, and more than 30 percent report being in a physical fight,” Grant said. “In 2006, more than 700,000 young people aged 10 to 24 were treated in emergency rooms for nonfatal injuries sustained from assaults.”

Further, she said, one in four adolescents report verbal, physical emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Grant said. “America should be a place where everyone can live healthy and productive lives. We can take steps to lower the risk of injuries and violence while increasing the likelihood of recovery for those who are injured.”

For example, she said, schools can reduce violence by 15 percent in as little as six months through universal school-based violence prevention efforts. Promoting prevention programs to change attitudes and behaviors linked with dating violence also have positive impacts, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“You have the power to make positive changes in your community,” Grant said. “Think about what your community needs most and brainstorm solutions. Working together, we can create healthier communities.”

Ways to make communities safer and healthier include:

• Call police or local child protective services if you suspect an older adult has been abused or a child neglected;

• Ask schools to implement Safe Dates or a similar school-based program designed to change social norms and improve problem-solving skills;

• Join your Neighborhood Watch program;

• Be a caring adult in the life of a young person;

• Keep weapons in a locked and safe place, away from children;

• Work with local officials to ensure access to services for youth and families living in communities most impacted by violence.

“Injury and violence create a significant amount of suffering and place a financial burden on society,’” Grant said. “We can take steps to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. Even small precautions can make a big difference.”

For more information about injury prevention, visit www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org or www.nphw.org.

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