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Memo to ER docs: Send young victims of violence for 1-on-1 counseling
Date:11/2/2008

A study of 113 children and teens physically victimized by peers concludes that one-on-one mentoring about how to safely avoid conflict and diffuse threats makes them far less likely to become victims again if guidance is initiated in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

The research, by investigators at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., was conducted on 10- to 15-year-olds treated for assault injuries, including gunshot, knife and fist-fight wounds, in their emergency rooms between 2001 and 2004.

Writing in the November issue of Pediatrics, the researchers said half of the victims were treated then referred by an ER doctor for at least six sessions with a mentor for one-on-one counseling and three parent home visits, while the other half were referred to community resources and received two follow-up phone calls.

Those who got the personalized counseling and forged a mentoring relationship with their counselors reported 25 percent fewer fights and 42 percent fewer fight injuries six months later, compared to those who received referrals only. Comparing their attitudes and behaviors after six months, researchers found that teens who received mentoring reported less aggression and fewer misdemeanors and were more likely to "think about the consequences," take steps to avoid fighting and "take a time out" when faced with a conflict.

Although not all risky behaviors showed statistically significant improvement, the researchers said the results suggest that such interventions can go a long way to give these children acceptable options for behaving in ways that prevent violence, and that the ER is a critical point for initiating the intervention.

The counseling focused on practical tips for the children and their families, such as ways to think about conflict and how to identify and avoid "hot buttons" or triggers of anger. The youth were taught about w
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Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva
epeshev1@jhmi.edu
410-516-4996
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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