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: Speaker says work to prevent instead of treat violence

SAFE FROM THE START':

March 23, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

HOLTVILLE — Author Robin Karr-Morse, who told attendees the roots of violence often begin in the womb, was the keynote speaker at the "Safe from the Start" conference Thursday at the Barbara Worth Golf Resort near here.

Karr-Morse presented the latest brain research to show how the development of the brain affects behavior in children, from unborn babies to 2-year-old toddlers.

State Attorney General Bill Lockyer was scheduled to speak but was unable to attend because of a delayed flight in Chicago.

Craig Pierini, manager of the state child abuse prevention program, spoke in lieu of Lockyer.

Pierini talked about what the state is doing to prevent violence in children.

"We are shifting the focus to a statewide collaborative," Pierini said.

He added the state is looking at policies that lessen violence in communities and is examining what can be done to assist communities that are implementing strategies and programs for such purposes.

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Karr-Morse, co-author of "The Ghosts of the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence," warned there is a "shortsightedness in our approach to violence in our society."

Karr-Morse presented the thesis that the "roots of violence often begin in the womb and can be well-entrenched by preschool" in a child's mind.

She showed though neglect or abuse, a child's brain cannot develop properly, increasing the risk for behavioral problems later.

"We need to create a model to prevent instead of treating violence in our communities," said Karr-Morse.

Karr-Morse suggested that home visitations by a nurse or trained professional could be a solution to preventing violence in children.

She also talked about the need for a higher-quality preschools and parent training as important preventive tools.

"You are the arms and legs to take this message to the community," Karr-Morse urged. "You can do a great deal right here."

The Safe from the Start symposium was organized by the Interagency Steering Committee, which is made up of the department heads of different local agencies.

The committee staged an informational meeting in the afternoon session that included a panel-led question-and-answer session.

Committee members spoke extensively about the local Family Resource Centers as one solution to educating and helping families.

"Our efforts are helping to solve some of those problems and to deliver help in the areas they live in," said Sam Couchman, director of the county Office of Employment Training.

George Miranda of the student well-being and family resources office of the county Office of Education said feedback from all who attended was "excellent."

"People were pleased with the information," Miranda said, adding the main question attendees had was, "How do we pass out the information?"

Miranda said what stood out to him was how critical it is to focus energies on getting parents to understand how much harder it is, once the brain pattern is developed, to change it.

"It showed how much we could get done earlier," Miranda said, adding, "It reinforces that we need to deal with the whole family."

Miranda said the Family Resource Centers are valuable because they provide a comprehensive approach to helping the entire family.

Miranda praised the Interagency Steering Committee for bringing the symposium to the Valley.

"We have an excellent group of leaders, department heads, who are continuously seeking to improve services in the Valley," he said.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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