Roundup: Past trauma, not hate behind Tulsa shootings? Philly doc makes case for family violence screening; ND gives grants to enhance abuse-free environments for kids

A close family friend of one of the suspects in the Tulsa, OK, shootings in which Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, are being held in the deaths of three African-Americans  says it wasn’t hate that led England to his actions, but past trauma that sent him over the edge, according to reporter Tess Maune.

Jake England grew up with what many would consider a dysfunctional family life. His parents divorced when he was young. When he was just 13, his mother was sentenced to 28 years in

prison for first degree arson. Then four years later, his father was killed outside the Comanche Park Apartments.

“They’ve been on their own for the last two years,” Renee said.

England found solace in his fiancé, Sherran, the mother of his baby boy. But that relationship also ended in tragedy; Renee says Sherran committed suicide in January.

The friend believes that England’s actions had less to do with race than location, since the shootings happened a few miles from his home. Nevertheless, what he did was wrong, she says.

What’s interesting is that her perspective speaks to investigators’ search for motive. There may be a superficial motive — money, jealousy, rage, hate — that masks causes, such as trauma, which communities can prevent or mitigate.

A PHYSICIAN MAKES A GOOD CASE for more members of his profession doing domestic violence screening in this op-ed. Dr. Daniel Taylor shows his physician’s chops in his interview with a woman who came in with her 7-year-old.

A few weeks ago, a 7-year-old overweight boy came in for a “well-child check.” His mother was concerned because he was “always getting into trouble” in his new school and his teacher thought he should be evaluated for attention deficit disorder (ADHD). At home, he was more withdrawn, twitchy, and continually fighting with his older sister.

Taylor thought the child might be living with family violence. In his op-ed, he spilled some grim figures. Here are just a couple: 5,000 children in Philadelphia, PA, are affected by family violence, and thus are more likely to suffer from “premature birth, poor asthma control, obesity, and child abuse and neglect.” Requests for shelter from  7,705 women (mostly) and men were turned down in 2011 for lack of space.

Using a laminated domestic-violence screening card stashed alongside the poison-control hotline stickers, I asked the mother of the 7-year-old privately about her exposure to domestic violence. She shook her head, but the expression on her face told me otherwise. She wasn’t ready yet, but a door was opened for her.

I explained what domestic violence does to children and how widespread it is. Then I offered her the domestic-violence resource card in case she “knew of anyone who might need these services.” She took the card without hesitation.

Only 10 percent of primary-care physicians routinely screen for intimate-partner violence during new-patient visits, Taylor noted.

Taylor was ready with information to give the mother — that’s more than most physicians do. But couldn’t primary-care physicians do more, such as have a counselor on staff to talk with the woman immediately? Can’t we come up with a system that doesn’t further traumatize the family and that relieves children of experiencing more trauma?

AMONG THOUSANDS OF COMMUNITIES across the country that are commemorating National Child Abuse Prevention Month, 15 North Dakota community coalitions are receiving funding from the state Department of Human Services for projects to help educate communities “about the importance of creating a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment that can prevent child abuse and neglect”.

The site has the schedule of events during this month, plus a great list of handouts to download, including “12 Alternatives to Lashing Out at Children”, “Hugging”, “To Discipline Means to Teach”, and “Setting Rules and Consequences with Teens”.

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