Roundup: Pittsburgh community leader sees poverty thru public-health lens; WA community celebrates Nat’l Child Abuse Prevention Month with dozens of events; should the media have shown Jason Russell’s breakdown?

Rashad Byrdsong, the founder of Community Empowerment Association, a nonprofit community development organization in Pittsburgh, thinks that poverty needs to be addressed through a public-health lens, according to this post by Tom Zeller Jr. on Huffington Post. Although using a public-health approach in addition to, or instead of, incorporating an economic or social approach is being used by many communities, Byrdsong says it’s time to look at all issues through a public-health lens.

“All the things we talk about when we talk about poverty constitute negative health outcomes in

our community,” he says. “When we start looking at the impact of crime. When we start looking at the impact of the lack of grocery stores and the nutrition in the food and produce we can get. When we begin to look at the levels of toxicity in our community — whether it’s through the environment, whether it’s what’s coming out of the ground or found in what you eat. When we look at homelessness. When we begin to look at the disproportionate number of kids being uprooted and taken out of the home — all of that has some type of emotional or psychological impact on families and children,” Byrdsong says. “And that has everything to do with health.”

JEFFERSON COUNTY, WA, IS CELEBRATING National Child Abuse Prevention Month (that’s in April…next week!), with its fifth annual “Our Kids: Our Business” social awareness and prevention campaign. This community, whose largest town is the charming Port Townsend, goes all out, with some type of activity nearly every day; on some days, multiple events take place. btw, about 30,000 people live in Jefferson County; Port Townsend has a population of about 9,000. The highlights:

April 1 — Poetic Justice Theater Ensemble does interactive theater with a focus on mental health.

April 18 — Workshops on fetal alcoholic spectrum disorder for the public and teachers.

April 26 —  Dr. Robert Anda, co-founder of the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study), does a presentation for the public, as well as workshops for the county’s health-care community.

Later this week, I’ll be posting a longer look at this community’s eight-year journey to incorporate ACE concepts.

One more thing: Don’t you think that, at some point, we should change “National Child Abuse Prevention Month” to something more solution-oriented, such as “Our Kids: Our Business”, or the name that Prevent Child Abuse America has chosen for its national campaign: “National Movement for America’s Children Month?”

PERHAPS SOME OF YOU watched the video that showed Jason Russell, who produced the  wildly popular Kony 2012 video that more than 85 million people have watched so far, in the midst of a psychological breakdown as he paced, naked and ranting, on a street near his home. “Media itself can motivate breakdowns and violent crimes alike,” wrote Ford Vox, a brain injury physician and journalist based in Boston, on He suggested that U.S. media should follow the example of Al Jazeera, which refused to broadcast footage shot by Mohamed Merah, the French al-Qaeda sympathizer who died in a shootout with French police last week. Merah “kept a video camera dangling around his neck while he murdered seven of his countrymen during three shooting attacks this month,” including grabbing a child by the hair and shooting her in the head. Vox noted:

It is such a grave violation of human dignity to show someone’s florid mental illness to the world at large without their permission. Not only is display of such events beyond the population of immediate witnesses an invasion of privacy for the individual, who has no control over the medical event, but the public display can significantly worsen the condition itself, making it that much harder to treat. In the case of the French killings, it should perhaps become a crime in itself to honor a murderer’s wishes to circulate his terror.

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