Treating Violence as a Public Health Problem

May 4, 2017

After a spike in gun violence in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines over the last few years, the state of Iowa is moving towards approaching violence as a public health issue, following the example of cities like Baltimore.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dr. Leana Wen, health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, who has been approaching Baltimore's issues with poverty, gun violence, and addiction as public health issues, rather than criminal justice problems. 

Carlettea Knox Seymour, president of Iowans for Gun Safety; Corinne Peek-Asa, associate dean for research at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the UI Injury Prevention Research Center; and Binnie LeHew, coordinator for Injury and Violence Prevention at the Iowa Department of Public Health, also join the conversation to talk about programs underway in Iowa that are combating violence, using some of what’s been done in Baltimore as an example.

"We have this misconception that's holding us back in Iowa. It's that violence happens because of drugs and gangs and that’s city stuff. But, some of the highest homicide rates are because of things like interpersonal violence," says Peek-Asa. "This is not a city problem."

*Editor's Note: This hour of River to River was recorded before a live audience at the College of Public Health on Tuesday, April 18 on the University of Iowa campus.