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 ``As the former public health commissioner of Massachusetts, as a physician, as a parent, as a black American, and as an inner- city resident,'' Prothrow-Stith, now assistant dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, brings impressive credentials to the writing of this book--and to the sensible array of solutions she offers to the growing problem of homicide as the leading cause of death among young American men. The homicide rate for 1986-87 for all young American males was 21.9 per 100,000 (the next highest national rate was that of Scotland, at only 5.0 per 100,000). But among young black American men, the incidence of homicide was a staggering 85.6 per 100,000. Writing with Weissman, a Boston free-lance author, Prothrow-Stith discusses the forces that impel poor young men, and especially poor young men of color, to see violence as their only means of conflict resolution. Saturated by distorted media images of violence, lacking nonviolent male role models, filled with rage and self- hatred, surrounded by the brutal tactics of gangs and drug-dealers, ghetto kids are learning before they even hit double-digits to carry weapons and use ``maximum force.'' Prothrow-Stith's proposed solution: Make violence prevention a public-health issue. Mount a public-awareness campaign like that waged so successfully against smoking. Require emergency-room physicians to refer young men obviously at risk for violence to appropriate mental-health agencies and fund these agencies adequately to treat them. Introduce an anti-violence curriculum in schools: Prothrow-Stith has developed one that has been implemented in over 300 schools nationwide. Gun control, community policing, better family education, and support systems are also components in her plan. The cost? Far less than incarceration or death and the consequent loss of potentially productive citizens. A comprehensive and seemingly workable blueprint--and Prothrow-Stith seems enough of a powerhouse to get her message to those in positions to act on it. (For another, more profound look at male violence, see Myriam Miedzian's Boys Will Be Boys, reviewed above.)

Pub Date: June 19th, 1991
ISBN: 0-06-016344-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991