May 16, 2012

Every child on the playground thinks she’s invincible. Watch one swinging skyward; another, rock climbing. In our adult lives, despite accidents, injuries and violence, we all too often live as if we were invincible, too. But through all stages of life, we need protective policies and practices to reduce chances of harm.

Injury Prevention Research Center: PREVENT Institutes
What could be more sensible than stopping violence before it starts? The PREVENT (Preventing Violence Through Education, Networking and Training) Institutes have trained more than 900 violence prevention practitioners nationwide. Since PREVENT’s inception in 2003, the Institutes’ curriculum has covered the National Training Initiative’s core competencies in injury and violence prevention.

“These institutes have infused key public health skills into our nation’s violence prevention workforce,” says Dr. Stephen W. Marshall, Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC) interim director. “They created a network of violence prevention practitioners equipped to engage in primary prevention.”

IPRC’s reach is nationwide. Members have supported efforts that led to a statewide enactment of legislation banning corporal punishment in Ohio schools. They worked to legislate a million-dollar budget increase to implement school bullying prevention programs in Illinois and establish a statewide partnership in New York that disseminates information about parenting concepts through a multistate planning process.

“Prevention promotes healthy adolescent development and stops family violence cycles.”
Vangie A. Foshee, PhD, professor, health behavior and health education

Shrikant I. Bangdiwala: Resilience despite abuse
Dr. Shrikant I. (Kant) Bangdiwala has focused his efforts at the IPRC on intimate partner violence and on children who suffer from maltreatment and neglect.

“One of my most professionally rewarding research projects at IPRC was the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LongSCAN),” he said. “It involved the first longitudinal study of children at risk for maltreatment or neglect and factors related to its occurrence and to children’s resiliency. LongSCAN led me to study intrafamily violence and child maltreatment in the U.S. and intimate partner violence internationally. The latter was known as the World Studies of Abuse in the Family Environment (WorldSAFE). These two large, multicenter studies have led to important violence prevention policies.”

The IPRC is affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Safety Promotion, through which Bangdiwala conducts safety workshops for community groups worldwide.

Shelah S. Bloom: Measuring violence against women
As part of an international collaborative process including multiple U.S. government agencies and U.N. agencies, Dr. Shelah S. Bloom, senior gender specialist of the MEASURE Evaluation Project, authored “Violence against women and girls: A compendium of monitoring and evaluation indicators.” (See

The publication is used worldwide by hundreds of managers, organization leaders and policy makers and by the U.N. High Committee for Refugees to revise its international guidance on sexual- and gender-based violence.

Carri Casteel: Danger behind the counter
Dr. Carri Casteel, research associate professor of epidemiology, develops and tests evidence-based programs designed to reduce robbery and related crimes in retail settings.

“Such programs feature employee training, good visibility and lighting, and minimum cash in registers,” she explains. “Inexpensive for businesses to implement, the programs especially benefit small, independently-owned establishments.”

Casteel’s successful and well-received programs continue to provide vital information to business owners.

Vangie Foshee: Teen dating abuse–prevalent, preventable
Here are frightening statistics for parents of teen girls and boys: one in ten has experienced physical dating violence; one in three, psychological dating abuse. Resultant health risks include substance abuse, depression and suicide.

Dr. Vangie Foshee, professor of health behavior and health education, studies factors that predict teen dating abuse and develops and evaluates prevention programs. “Prevention,” she says, “promotes healthy adolescent development and stops family violence cycles.”
Foshee’s school-based Safe Dates program has achieved global success, reaching 600,000 people. Her Families for Safe Dates program enhances communication between teens and adults. Both programs dramatically decreased teens’ acceptance of dating abuse and, more importantly, had effect upon preventing teen abuse behaviors.

Jonathan Kotch: Giving children a head start
Head Start serves more than one million low-income children in the U.S. Since 1964, the program has educated young children, empowered families and changed communities.

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics received funding for the Head Start National Center on Health. Dr. Jonathan Kotch, in collaboration with other experts in emergency management, public health preparedness and response in child care, leads efforts to adapt curricula on Emergency Preparedness and Response or Child Care for use in Head Start and Early Head Start.
Read a Carolina Public Health feature about Kotch at

– JB Shelton

Researchers featured in this article include: Shrikant I. Bangdiwala, PhD, research professor, biostatistics; Shelah S. Bloom, ScD, research assistant professor, maternal and child health and senior gender specialist, MEASURE Evaluation Project; Carri H. Casteel, PhD, research associate professor, epidemiology; Vangie A. Foshee, PhD, professor, health behavior and health education; Jonathan Kotch, MD, MPH, Carol Remmer Angle Distinguished Professor of Children’s Environmental Health, maternal and child health; Stephen W. Marshall, PhD, professor, epidemiology, and interim director, UNC Injury Prevention Research Center


Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit

Last updated June 29, 2012