from the March 2001 Issue of ODYSSEY, Brain Matters written by Linda Bickerstaff, M.D.
This article provides a perfect mechanism for helping students deal with the frightening phenomenon of school violence, as well as violence in their community or at home. Differing theories as to the causes of violent behavior are explored with examples from current events around the country. Students can voice their opinions and fears through our Youth Violence Survey, also designed by Dr. Bickerstaff.
Violence – the use of physical force to injure or damage – is as old as human life itself. Our ancestors used violent methods to slay mastodons and each other. Violence was, and continues to be, a horrifying part of war and violent revolution. Tragically, it is also a very real part of the lives of many young people in the United States today. Youth violence is everywhere – in schools, in churches, in Scout troops, and even at McDonald’s.
But how big a problem is violence? Dr. David Satcher, United States Surgeon General, believes that youth violence is a major public health problem. In a speech given on June 4th, 1999, shortly after the tragic student killings in Littleton, CO, he said,
"While it is truly a tragedy that 15 children were
killed at Columbine High School, the fact is that violence claims the lives of between 13 and 15 young people in communities across the nation every day."
Dr. Bickerstaff is a University of Missouri-trained board-certified general surgeon who has additional fellowship training at the Mayo Clinic.