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I am writing this having just returned from the 4th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Control in Amsterdam, although you will be reading it some months later. The ISCAIP conference was a great success; many felt it was one of the highlights of the entire meeting. From this conference and the ISCAIP business meeting, a number of important issues relating to the future of ISCAIP were discussed.
Inclusion of intentional injuries
The conference featured a lively debate and a straw poll on whether ISCAIP should include intentional injuries in its scope and mission. The debaters and attendees concluded that the answer to this question is overwhelmingly yes. While respecting the views of dissenters, most believe that ISCAIP should be concerned with injuries to children and adolescents regardless of how they occur, and that in fact determination of intent is often difficult, sometimes impossible, and occasionally irrelevant. In many situations, prevention may be the same regardless of the intent; safe storage of guns can prevent unintentional firearm injuries to young children as well as suicide by guns in adolescents. On the other hand, we realize that much of the field of violence is the bailiwick of criminology, not injury control, and that we should recognize the important contributions these individuals have made in the past and will continue to do so in the future. We also realize that in some countries, inclusion of intentional with unintentional injuries may not be feasible. The work of some people on unintentional injuries may be hampered by their association with the intentional injury field, particularly criminal justice. Fortunately, most felt this was not an issue for them. Finally of note is that Injury Prevention does not publish work related to child abuse because of the excellent journal available for these studies, the International Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Mission and activities of ISCAIP
It became clear through discussions at the business meeting, presentations and comments during the ISCAIP conference, and informal discussions over coffee that ISCAIP should be more active and more activist. There are many issues on which ISCAIP can and should have an influence, especially with the further maturation of the European Union. ISCAIP represents the leading experts in the world on measures to prevent injuries to children and adolescents. It therefore can potentially influence standards and public policy, and has, in fact, a duty to speak out on behalf of children. For example, one issue discussed at length was the development of a position statement on a universal mounting system for infant and child seats in motor vehicles. Such a system will make it easier to use these devices and increase their effectiveness, yet its adoption appears to be mired down in the political process between manufacturers, regulators, and standard organizations. Another issue was advocacy against the export of unsafe or outdated products from industrialized countries (where in some instances they have been banned) to less industrialized parts of the world. This advocacy of ISCAIP must be done in a way which is sensitive to the cultural, social, and economic differences of the countries of our members. The leadership of ISCAIP wants to hear from you on what issues you think we should develop and disseminate a formal position statement.
We also heard the need to improve our communication structure through ISCAIPNET and our web site, provide a research and writing consultation service to members, and be more responsive to members' needs. ISCAIPNET is a valuable tool by which members can communicate and take advantage of the wealth of expertise in our Society. I would like to see us have a regular newsletter on ISCAIPNET as well as use it to alert members to important injury control issues in a timely fashion. Our web site should be expanded to serve as an important repository of information on activities and resources for child and adolescent injury prevention throughout the world. We need volunteers for both these activities.
I have written previously in this column about the development of a research consultation service. The sentiment among our members was to expand this to a writing consultation service as well, that is, expert editorial assistance in writing a peer reviewed publication. The Executive Committee will develop standing committees within the Society to spearhead these efforts and work to get members more involved. These standing committees with serve to coordinate these activities as well as provide a more formal role for individuals willing to contribute time and effort to ISCAIP. We have wonderful expertise within the Society and need to use it more fully, both to benefit our members, as well as to accomplish our goal of decreasing injuries to children and adolescents.
One issue of concern was the ability of the Society to grow and mature with meetings only every two years. We would like to encourage, and will help coordinate, our members holding ISCAIP meetings as part of other ongoing meetings of their respective professional organizations around the world. This information will be disseminated over ISCAIPNET and will serve to make ourselves more visible and cohesive.
ISCAIP, Injury Prevention, and the BMA Publishing Group
As Barry Pless mentions in his column, one of the more important topics at the meeting was the decision to financially and administratively separate Injury Prevention from ISCAIP. There were many reasons to do so; one of the large advantages to ISCAIP is that our staff will be able to devote more time to Society business and have fewer administrative responsibilities for subscription renewals. We will retain the journal discount for ISCAIP members, thanks to the generosity of the BMJ Publishing Group, and Injury Prevention will remain as the official journal of the Society.
As we do this, we must, however, remind ourselves of the need to foster both the journal and the Society. Subscriptions to the former and membership in the latter are both small, reflecting that both are still in their childhood (even if the leadership of the one is graying and the other balding). The journal and Society serve as important avenues to advance the cause of injury prevention for children and adolescents. Each of us must be a bit of an evangelist and bring new members into the fold of both the journal and the Society. If we truly believe in our cause, this should be easy.