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Researching, Reducing and Preventing Violence

Friday, April 20, 2018

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Dear Tulane Community:

We are reminded every day of the terrible toll of violence in our lives – from school shootings to street violence to campus sexual assault. The daily drumbeat of headlines risks making us numb, resigned to tragedy that should instead appall us and inspire us to work harder to find solutions. At Tulane, we know the more complicated and crucial the problem, the more we need to steel our resolve to solve it. And we know we can only effectively confront multi-faceted problems like violence by working together, across fields, disciplines and perspectives to find answers and bring about lasting change.

That is why we are launching the Tulane Violence Prevention Institute, an initiative that will bring together the expertise and passion of nearly 50 faculty members from across the university in fields ranging from law to public health to neuroscience to sociology to social work and more. Together these experts will grapple with the causes and consequences of violence from every perspective: How does exposure to violence change the wiring of children's brains? Their DNA? How do we capture the impact of violence not only through statistics, but also through the stories – the lives behind the violence? How should our legal system respond to both the victims and perpetrators of violence? When is violence an expression of childhood trauma and neglect or of privilege and entitlement? How can we work together to prevent violence before it happens?

The work of the Violence Prevention Institute will continue the legacy of our faculty’s efforts around the world, and particularly here in New Orleans, to help prevent violence. This work includes teaching trauma-informed care in local schools, operating the Domestic Violence Law Clinic to protect survivors of domestic assault, working with community partners to understand and prevent gun violence and sending forth successive generations of students emboldened with the insights, skills, discipline and desire to find the answers to ending violence.

Now is a particularly crucial moment for us to tackle the problem of violence because it has hit us so close to home. This year we were reminded that the problems of violence are not just in the streets beyond our campus or in faraway, war-torn countries. The results of the Campus Climate Survey presented us with the disturbing truth of sexual assault and domestic violence committed by – and against – our own students. Addressing these and other issues will be a primary focus of the Violence Prevention Institute. I urge all of you to learn more about the Violence Prevention Institute by attending the panel discussion "Connecting the Dots Between Multiple Forms of Violence" from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., April 26, in the Kendall Cram room on the second floor of the LBC.

Often problems like violence can seem so ingrained and pervasive that they defy solutions. But many thought the same was true about the recurrent yellow fever epidemics that menaced 19th century New Orleans. Fortunately, Tulane was founded by a group of young doctors who believed otherwise. They knew that working together they could find a cure. It is Tulane's nature to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible. We are not deterred by intractable problems. We look at them from every angle; we take them apart and put them back together again differently. We find the cure.

Signature of Mike Fitts