Pediatricians Prevent Child Violence

Pediatricians are able to help prevent future violent behaviors in their patients with a brief, one-time intervention during a routine exam.

According to recent study results published in Pediatrics, pediatricians are able to help “prevent future violent behaviors in their patients with a brief, one-time intervention during a routine exam.” The study—which involved 5,000 families with children age 2-11 years and more than 200 providers at 137 practices associated with the American Academy of Pediatrics

is the largest study to date that recognizes the influential power of pediatricians in regard to reducing violent behaviors.

Researchers focused on changing factors that had previously been shown to impact the risk of future violent behavior, such as excessive playing and watching of violent video games and television shows, access to firearms, and corporal punishment. The parents in the study were split into two groups: one received “specific violence-prevention intervention, including timers for monitoring media use and time-outs, cable locks for safe storage of guns, and office referrals for childhood aggression,” and the control group received “only printed literature on literacy promotion and no information related to violence prevention.”

A follow up six months later found that there was a significant increase in the number of caregivers who were limiting their children’s media time to fewer than two hours per day. In addition, firearm owners in the intervention group became twice as likely to store their firearms in safer areas. Researchers also noted a decrease in families who reported corporal punishment, although this was found to be more prevalent in the intervention group.

As a pediatrician, do you feel it is necessary for you to educate your patients (and their parents) about what habits to avoid in order to prevent violent behavior down the road? Have you personally experienced situations in which you were able to predict future violence in a patient? How will these study results impact your practice, or will they?

Check out these resources pertaining to violence prevention:

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center

Blueprints for Violence Prevention Project

CDC’s Strategies to Prevent Youth Violence

Best Practices to Prevent Youth Violence

Surgeon General’s Report on Youth Violence