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Rarely, as far as I can discern, do the pediatric departments of the six medical schools in Chicago come together to address an issue in health care. There are certainly many issues available: pediatric AIDS, infant mortality, prematurity, access to care, health care finances, funding pediatric education, and probably others. But the Chicago area pediatric department chairmen have come together to deal with violence. In announcing their alliance against violence the chairmen have firmly established their desire to make the children of Chicago safe in their environments. Development of this alliance, its goals, and its eventual products, are relevant to injury prevention advocates, practitioners, and researchers everywhere.
Why violence? When I began to work in the area of injury prevention, the hot topics were motor vehicle and other unintentional injuries. We fought the child safety seat and seat belt battles. We reported on product injuries, falls from windows, tricycles, bicycles and child seats on bicycles, pedestrians, tap water burns, and much more. Relatively little attention was paid to intentional injury or violence except for child abuse. Since the mid-1980s violent injuries have garnered more attention, I think not because unintentional injuries have become less important—they remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality—but because we have come to recognize that violent injury is also a major cause of death and disability in childhood. We are surrounded by images of violence, both real and fictional. Violent injury is expensive in both monetary and social terms, and it is seemingly so preventable.
Why is this alliance coming together in Chicago? Violent injury is not unique to Chicago, or even to the United States. But Chicago is near the heartland geographically, socially, and politically. There are six medical schools in Chicago and there are even more hospitals with pediatric programs. If you want …