Cincinnati can stop future acts of violence by reaching out to at-risk youth, researcher says

CINCINNATI -- The Cameo nightclub shooting ended early Sunday morning but began years earlier, Victoria Straughn said Thursday. So did the shooting that claimed the life of 9-year-old Alexandrea Thompson in January, and so did the countless other acts of violence, large and small, that happen in the Queen City every day.

Straughn, the clinical research coordinator at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, said she believes the seeds of violent behavior are planted in childhood.

To stop them from growing into acts that claim lives, she's invited trauma specialists, nurses and psychologists to help her develop an intervention plan for identifying and connecting with ‘at-risk' children.

"We can't keep doing the same thing in this city and expecting different results," she said. "Currently the way that children are being dealt with in terms of behavioral problems in the school -- it simply leads to dismissal.

"We have to begin to look at not just what's going on in that moment, because we're only dealing with cause. We're not dealing with effect."

Straughn added that other cities have already established best practices that help prevent students with behavioral problems or turbulent home situations from being sent away from the resources that could help them. Cincinnati could draw on those. It could cultivate its own programming.

What it can't do is fail to act.

"Many of our children are really turning the abnormal into normal," she said. "Once they normalize it, they then will begin to be the next generation to act it out. We don't want that."

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