Group recommends treating violence as a public health problem

    Violence Prevention Working Group recommends that crime be treated like a disease (WKRC)

    CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Cincinnati City Council is considering treating violence as a public health problem.

    Council members were told that the majority of violent crime in town can be linked to just 1.4 percent of the geographic areas in the city.

    And there are victims of violence who may not be hit, "That means if a child hears a gunshot that creates a trauma. If a child witnesses a shooting that creates a trauma. If a child is exposed to maltreatment, trauma, and that trauma builds up over time, it creates a violent individual," said city council member Yvette Simpson (D).

    The Violence Prevention Working Group said crime needs to be treated like a disease - treat the victims but also inoculate communities to prevent crime in the future. Fight crime on the streets but also provide services to keep people out of a life of crime. The group said a variety of social service programs aimed at youth may cost money now but will pay off in the future with lower crime rates and safer neighborhoods.

    One step would be a place for recovering addicts. The number of opiod addicted pregnant mothers has doubled in recent years.

    "Many of them have been exposed to violence prior to coming to our agency. They were involved with domestic violence, also being involved in drugs is very dangerous, and many of them have been involved in the sex trade as well," Margo Spence said of First Step Home.

    A few steps from first step home is a gas station police say is a crime hot spot. Applying a public health strategy would have youth programs targeted for the immediate neighborhood. The Violence Prevention Working Group is asking for $250,000 which would leverage another $250,000 of private money to help further the idea. But city council took violence prevention out of social service funding in 2015. It will take a vote of full council, not just Monday's committee members, to pull it back.

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