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Violence Prevention Conference Explores Roots of Behavior, Presents Solutions

May 13, 2015

 

We see it on the news every day:  school shootings, gang violence, police brutality, sexual assault, and more...unspeakable acts of violence that shake families and communities to the core. The questions that always linger in the wake of these crimes are 'Why did this happen?' and 'How could we have prevented this?'

On May 12, students, faculty and staff from the Curry College Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Program teamed up with Grandmothers against Gun Violence Cape Cod to tackle these important questions. The "New Directions in Violence Prevention" Conference, hosted on the Curry campus, showcased innovators in the field of violence prevention:  from those who work to reduce risk factors of violence with young children, to those who teach violence prevention in schools, to criminal justice professionals who practice intervention as a way to make communities safer.

Photo Gallery: "New Directions in Violence Prevention" at Curry College

And many shared their experiences as family members of victims.

Malcolm Astley, the father of Lauren Astley, who was murdered in 2011 as a victim of break up violence, gave a moving talk on the topic of preventing teen dating violence through education.

The Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund: Promoting Healthy Teen Relationships, The Arts, and Community Service

Dr. Jeremy Richman, Ph.D., a neuroscientist specializing in brain health, was the keynote speaker. Dr. Richman is also the father of Avielle Richman, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December of 2012.

The Avielle Foundation: Preventing Violence Through Research and Community Education

Dr. Richman's talk, "The Science of Violence and Compassion," explained how brain health research and initiatives can better protect our loved ones and foster happier and stronger communities, starting with how we talk about mental illness. "We need to go from all things 'mental', to all things 'brain'...it would go a long way in breaking down the stigma associated with brain disorders. It's a matter of chemistry not character," said Dr. Richman.

Preventing violence through early intervention was a theme throughout the day, with speakers discussing everything from exploring the root causes of violence, to teaching young people how to effectively manage stress, and more.

Several prominent law enforcement professionals were also on hand to share their experiences of curbing violence, advocating mutual police-community cooperation.

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley talked about gun violence prevention, and the "X-factor" of helping alleviate some of the mistrust of law enforcement in Boston neighborhoods.

"Although it's not a traditional aspect of law enforcement, we have (another) highly effective strategy, and that's our community outreach and collaboration," said Conley.

Some of the current initiatives Conley described are soccer games between Boston youths and police and prosecutors, after school programs for children and teens, and job training programs for young adults.

Dan Linskey CE '97, former Superintendent-in-Chief of the Boston Police Department and Founder of Linskey Group LLC, shared his experiences from 28 years working in and with communities to prevent violent crime on the streets of Boston.

Linskey discussed ways to eliminate the 'Us vs. Them' mentality that exists between citizens and police in many American communities these days. One suggestion is to update the methods in which we train police officers.

"We've got to change the way we occupy our neighborhoods, utilize intelligence and technology, and we have to be transparent," said Linskey.

"The work must continue," said Clementina 'Tina' Chéry, of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, during her talk. Chéry, who lost her 15-year old son, Louis, to a fatal shooting just blocks from her home in 1993, transformed her pain and anger into action by co-founding the organization, which provides vital crisis management to families of homicide victims.

The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute: Transforming Pain and Anger into Power and Action

"We need to look at the whole spectrum of prevention and not wait until something bad happens for us to react."

 
 
 
 

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