WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center say physicians and other health care providers play valuable roles in violence prevention in their communities.
A study published in the March issue of Injury Prevention states that physicians have a great deal of influence on families and often form unique bonds with them as they mature.
The study identified six potential ways clinicians could help curb violent behavior during a routine well-child examination. The six areas of intervention included: educating the family about youth violence, counseling the child directly, using the unique bond formed between doctor and patient, advocating gun safety to either the parent or the patient, referring patients and families to community programs, and educating patients through impersonal means, such as brochures or posters.
"Violence prevention is not just about guns; that's only part of it," said Shari Barkin, M.D. assistant professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the principal investigator of the study. "During well-child examinations, pediatricians must provide education to parents regarding discipline and TV viewing.
"Corporal punishment is a very personal issue for most parents," Barkin said. "Discipline needs to be respectful but firm. However, corporal punishment sends a negative message to your children. It is saying, 'I have a conflict with you so I am going to strike you.' It teaches children to resolve conflicts in aggressive ways."
Viewing TV for extended amounts of time and watching violent programming can also negatively affect children.
"Children should watch a maximum of two hours of TV a day," she said. "And programs should be selected to decrease violent TV shows watched by children. Young children can't separate fantasy from reality, so they imitate TV and make it reality."