A new report offers advice on how to protect our kids

Edelman (courtesy of Children's Defense Fund)

The Institute of Medicine released a new report that provides a road map for what needs to be done to prevent gun violence among America’s youngest citizens. Discussing how the issue impacts young black men, Marian Wright Edelman, the president of the Children’s Defense Fund, provides insights into the the effects of violence on health.

“The odds against growing into a productive adulthood are almost overwhelming for black boys,” she writes on The Huffington Post, “especially those from impoverished backgrounds. One in three will wind up in jail or prison, and some won’t survive to age 21.”

Edelman cites FBI statistics that in 2011, more than 6,300 African-Americans (mostly young men) were murdered in the U.S. “The Children’s Defense Fund’s 2012 national conference featured a panel of physicians and experts who look at this ongoing loss of life and human potential as a public health crisis,” she explains. “Their viewpoint offers a fresh explanation for the culture of violence and points to ways to counteract it.”

There are a few reasons for the numbers. Edelman talks to Dr, Kenneth Hardy, professor of Family Therapy at Drexel University in Philadelphia, who says that young men and boys face a set of underlying and intertwined problems. “The first is devaluation – persistent assaults to dignity,” she says.

“Part of being black means you are born into a group that tends to be devalued. Put on top of that male and poor,” says Hardy. Additional trauma may come from failure in school and sometimes physical, emotional and sexual abuse. He believes that persistent devaluation of poor black boys and men is one reason many put such a high premium on respect, and real or perceived disrespect then often becomes the trigger point for violence.

Click here to find out how Hardy and Edelman are making a difference.