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August 06, 2012

Tragedy and Violence: What's Going On in Our Communities?

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As Americans come to grips with the Aurora, Colo., shootings, and now, the tragedy at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, MSASS researchers have been called on to provide their perspectives on what they have learned.

Daniel Flannery, Director of The Dr. Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education, recently served on a panel with community members here in Cleveland. He spoke about the impact of violence on today's society as part of a July 25 discussion on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

On August 1, the Civic Commons website hosted a similar online discussion during a 3-day forum. Those who participated with community advocates, young people, thought leaders, and organizers encouraged discussion and thoughtful solutions. Patrick J. Kanary, director for the Center for Innovative Practices at MSASS, was called on to contribute.

On August 3, the Huffington Post published an article written by Research Assistant Richey Piiparinen. The piece, entitled Courage Isn't Going to the Movies, addresses the notion of fear amid human tragedy. Piiparinen is a researcher for the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at MSASS. He also serves as co-editor of Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology.

The Importance of Research

Often when there is a violent incident or series of incidents in our communities, the media looks to researchers and mental health specialists to determine what went wrong. Here at the Mandel School, the Begun Center conducts work with community-based partners -- including law enforcement, schools and treatment agencies -- to identify practices and policies to effectively prevent these incidents from occurring and to provide the needed services to those who survive and who are impacted by these tragic events.

"The center conducts research on the link between mental health and violence and its implication for treatment and policy," Flannery said. "It advocates for a threat assessment-based approach to assess risk for violence perpetration."

For years, Flannery and his team have conducted community assessments on exposure to violence to understand its psychological and behavioral effects on children. The center's analysis of its data on recent events will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Current Psychiatry Review.