One of Illinois top public health problems isn’t bacteria or a virus. It’s an activity: Youth violence. Dr. Lamar Hasbrouck, Illinois’ public health director, says it affects people in ways beyond murder. “Injury, disability, disfigurement and despair, the psychological burden for children exposed to violence, and in terms of the anguish for parents and family survivors, and ultimately as measured by the ripple effects that can destabilize entire communities,” he said.
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He says violence is the No. 2 cause of death for those ages 15-24, with about 1,000 deaths every three years, and it can be treated as a public health problem just like car crashes and obesity. Hasbrouck says the agency can work with troubled families and their children, as well as community organizations in places where violence is most prevalent, to convince people that it doesn’t have to be normal.