As associate medical director of Carolinas Medical Center’s trauma unit, Dr. David Jacobs spends a good deal of his time dealing with the after effects of youth violence.
This week, he and others within Carolinas HealthCare System will be focused also on stopping violence before it begins.
On Thursday and Friday, CHS will sponsor its fourth annual violence prevention conference. This year’s theme: It’s never too early to start.
Jacobs, who chairs the hospital’s violence prevention committee, said the conference will deal with issues affecting children in preschool through middle school.
“There is an awful lot of violence these kids are exposed to,” he said, ticking off a list that included television, movies, video games and music. “If you look at TV, by the time a child graduates from high school, the estimates are they have seen 200,000 episodes of violence on somewhere around 80,000 deaths.”
As a level-one trauma center, he said, CMC is required to focus some of its efforts on injury prevention. But rather than choose what Jacobs calls “safe” topics — bicycle helmets and seat belt use — the hospital decided years ago to focus on the more risky topic of youth violence.
Jacobs said many of the injuries he sees at CMC are related to guns. One of his favorite questions when he goes into a classroom, he said, is to ask students how many of them have guns in their homes. Between 70 and 80 percent typically raise their hands, he said.
Jacobs calls guns “the great equalizer” for kids who have not learned to settle disputes through negotiations or by walking away.
“This guy may be six inches taller than you, he may be 50 pounds heavier than you, but if you’ve got a gun, then all of a sudden the playing field is level,” he said.
Contrary to what some may believe, Jacobs said, many of the violence-related injuries he sees are not related to gangs.
“We’re seeing some gang activity,” he said, “but most of what we’re seeing is interpersonal squabbles, somebody goes to a party and doesn’t like what somebody else said, dancing with somebody else’s girlfriend… The fact that kids have such ready access to guns in Charlotte means that things quickly escalate before people have much time to think about it.”
The conference will be held at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3400 Beatties Ford Road. The Thursday session is free and is designed for parents and teachers. The topic: Raising today’s kids to resist violence tomorrow. Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.charlotteahec.org or call Erika Smith at 704-512-6091.
”We really, really, really do want parents to come out,” Jacobs said, noting that limited slots for free childcare are available.
The Friday conference is designed for teachers, social workers and health care professionals. Time: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.