Thursday, May 25, 2000

Speaker stresses need to break cycle of violence

Poussaint says guns should be controlled to prevent homicides

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a nationally known speaker on race relations and strong proponent of nonviolent parenting, brought his message about breaking the cycle of violence to Cincinnati.

        “There is something about America that promotes a culture of violence, via the media and the history of this country,” Dr. Poussaint said during an interview Wednesday afternoon. “The country was founded on violence. We celebrate it through westerns and teaching children to play cowboys and Indians.”

        Dr. Poussaint spoke to a crowd of 300, including many health care professionals and community leaders, later in the day at the Kingsgate Conference Center at the University of Cincinnati. The event was organized by Children's Hospital Medical Center and Health Alliance.

        He said one has to break this cycle of violence by creating public awareness and controling guns.

        “Most of the homicides in the country are done with guns,” Dr. Poussaint said. “If you control guns, you would be really putting a dent in the number of homicides. You can't have any drive-by knifings. That is a powerful statement.”

        Best known for his books and articles on raising black children, Dr. Poussaint, among other things, served as a script consultant for the Bill Cosby Show.

        He is a professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and associate dean of student af fairs.

        He regularly appears on talk shows ranging from Geraldo Rivera to Larry King.

        His latest book, titled Lay my Burden Down, will be released this fall. He said it is a look at the state of mental health among African-Americans.

        Organizers said the goal was to help community leaders learn how to address violence.

        “What you see in the news is not all the violence going on,” said Dr. Victor F. Garcia, director of trauma service for Children's, who attended the speech. “Violence is child abuse. Violence is spousal abuse. Women are victims. Children are victims.

        “It is not just a race issue. The school shootings are evidence that violence is not unique to any gender, race or metropolitan area.”


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