Ongoing study evaluates pediatricians' effectivenes at violence prevention

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Although 95 percent of parents think it's important to control their children's exposure to television, videos and computers, more than 60 percent have allowed their children to view these media as long as they want, and 30 percent have a television in their child's bedroom, according to research from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

At the Pediatric Academic Societies' meeting May 1-4 in San Francisco, Shari Barkin, M.D., reported preliminary results from a four-year ongoing study on whether health care providers can change parents' behaviors and help prevent violence.

This first batch of data examines surveys that parents complete during well-child exams. It measures media exposure, gun storage and communication between the parent and health care provider and also measures pediatricians' levels of comfort and effectiveness in talking with parents about these issues. During well-office visits, parents of children ages two to 11 are asked to complete surveys. More than 100 pediatric practices throughout the United States are participating.

"We want to know what's going to be effective to change families' behavior and alter the likelihood that their children would become either a perpetrator or a victim of violence," said Barkin, primary investigator and a pediatrician at Wake Forest Baptist's Brenner Children's Hospital.

In 2002, the World Health Organization reported that more children die of violence-related deaths each year than from all other natural causes combined.

"Exposure to violence in the media is a predictor of aggressive behavior in young adults, both men and women," Barkin said. "This has been backed up in studies including one that followed children for more than 16 years."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting exposure to media including computers, video games and television to two hours a day. However, 65 percent of the nearly 900 parents who have bee

Contact: Rae Beasley
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

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