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May 23, 1986

Violence hits public health: Surgeon General

JAMA. 1986;255(20):2720-2723. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370200018004

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Murder child abuse, rape, assault, even torture— violence seems to be an integral part of American society. Yet, says Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD, "the values passed down to us through the years have consistently been the values of a people devoted to peace and the veneration of life."

Still, Koop notes that, despite this being a nation where most citizens seem to want to live in peace, each year some 4 million Americans become the victims of violence. Thus, in the Public Health Service Surgeon General's view, violence indeed has become a public health issue, not solely the province of the police, the courts, and the penal system.

This is a relatively new idea (JAMA [MEDICAL NEWS] 1985-254:721-730,881-892), and clearly Koop is not going to let it languish. Recently he held a workshop on violence and public health attended by over 150 health professionals and law enforcement experts.