Foreword, C. Everett Koop, Violence in America: A Public Health Approach, Mark L. Rosenberg and Mary Ann Fenley (1991).
Throughout our history, Americans have remained committed to a social contract that respects the rule of law, that promotes peaceful intercourse among citizens, and that has as its highest value the protection of human life. We are often characterized as being a "violent nation" and clearly we have had some unpleasant chapters in our long history of nation building. Yet the values passed down to us through the years have consistently been the values of people devoted to peace and the veneration of life.
Our citizens want to live in peace, but each year many thousands of them become the victims of violence. Some are infants, others are elderly and frail. They are abused, beaten, raped, assaulted, and killed. Society has somehow failed them. But such an admission must not be the end of the matter; for those of us in the health professions, that failure signaled the need for a new beginning. The Surgeon General's Workshop on Violence and Public Health, conducted in October 1985, represented that new beginning and encouraged all health professional to respond constructively to the ugly facts of interpersonal violence.
Identifying violence as a public health issue is a relatively new idea. Traditionally, when confronted by the circumstances of violence, [we] . . . have deferred to the criminal justice system. Over the years we have tacitly and, I believe, mistakenly agreed that violence was the exclusive province of the police, the courts, and the penal system. To be sure, those agents of public safety and justice have served us well. But when we ask them to concentrate more on the prevention of violence and to provide additional services for victims, we may begin to burden the criminal justice system beyond reason. At that point, the professions of medicine, nursing and the health-related social services must come forward and recognize violence as their issue and one that profoundly affects the public health.
[T]his is an awesome challenge to the health [and legal] profession[s], but it is not totally uncharted. For some time, a number of people around the country have been doing the research and conducting pilot demonstrations to further engage the health professions in this issue of interpersonal violence. From the time of the workshop in 1985 to now, the exploration of effective means of public health intervention into elder abuse and child abuse, rape and sexual assault, spouse abuse, child sexual abuse and assault and homicide has continued to grow. I look forward to continued progress in this area that is of such great significance for the health and well-being of all Americans and of our society as a whole. It will be a major contribution toward the strengthening of our nation's social contract. [Back]
While it is hardly arguable that preparing you to be an effective lawyer is an important goal, it is not the only one. Many of you will be law makers and policy makers, thus training you to understand the values implicit in the law is an important goal. Another important goal is to train you to address in a systematic manner your social responsibilities as an individual lawyer and your collective responsibilities as a member of the bar. This includes your responsibility to assist your community in maintaining an accessible, effective and socially responsible legal system.
Thus, my objective is to help you continue the process of meeting those goals. The primary focus of my teaching method is to provide you an educationally sound introduction to the issues related to Violence as a Public Health Issue. Furthermore, given the impact race, gender and poverty have on the law (and vice versa) my approach to teaching is to explicitly explore race, gender and poverty in the context of Violence as a Public Health Issue.
An educationally sound legal pedagogy is a philosophy of legal education which is grounded in known educational theory. To be so grounded, an educationally sound legal pedagogy:
Thus, it is my goal, through an educationally sound pedagogy, to provide you with an opportunity to learn and to excel.
"Violence as a Public Health Issue" teaching objectives are those objectives that relate directly to the substantive area of the law. They can be divided into two categories: knowledge and skills/abilities. The objectives of this course are:
Class, disability, gender, race and sexual preference issues are such an integral part of our society (and the legal profession) that we often overlook how the law affects individuals with different backgrounds differently. In a diverse society, such as ours, awareness of how different class, disability, gender race and sexual preference are effected differently by the law is essential. This is true whether the person is a defendant, plaintiff, lawyer, juror, judge or law student.(1) Diversity awareness should be a normative part of the value system of the practicing attorney.(2) An education which is aware of diversity:
Learning in law school is essentially self-directed. Most of your learning will happen outside of the classroom and independently of myself or any other professor. In fact, many professors, (myself included) will test you on significantly more than can ever be covered in class. My role is to structure my course in such a way as to facilitate your self-directed learning. My methods for facilitating your learning include:
This syllabus is an important study tool. It provides you with specific guidelines as to my expectations regarding what you should learn, what skills and understanding I value and how I organize the content of the course. However, the syllabus is not a contract and I retain the right to modify it at my discretion.
The assigned reading provides you not only with the opportunity to obtain rule and process information, but more importantly to develop your analytical skills and your understanding of the impact of violence in American life. It is my expectation that you will be thoroughly familiar with the assignment and completely prepared for class participation.
Course Grade : Your grade in the course will be based on:
This is a participatory learning class. That means that your absence effects the learning of others. Consequently, missing classes significantly affects your grade. However, class participation means more than showing up for class. Class participation includes:
Discussion Questions. You should turn in two discussion questions
every Monday Morning by noon. The questions need not be typed but
they must be readable. There should be at least 1 question for each topic.
The questions should explore the underlying value implications of the reading.
You may want to raise questions which will explore the point at which a
value important to you is violated; to write question which challenge the
desirable or undesirable consequences of a position taken in the reading;
to write questions which make analogies to other things that you have learned;
or to write questions which explore the priorities being set by some aspect
of the reading. You may email the questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will chose a topic related to "Violence as a Public Health".
Your first paper on the topic will review the legal aspect of topic. Your
paper should answer the following questions:
As a group you will assess Dayton's capacity for dealing with issues of violence. The term "community assessment" refers to the collection and analysis of information required to determine the nature and extent of [violence] in the community, community residents' perceptions of violence and how they are affected by it, and information about the environment or conditions of a community. If planned and conducted well, the assessment will identify specific needs and problems that can be addressed. The overall purpose of the assessment is to determine--and exchange information about--specific types of community violence problems, their causes, their effects, and the resources available to combat them. Ultimately, the results of the assessment will enable the team to plan a course of action in line with the community's real and perceived needs and resources.
Why do a Community Assessment?
Donald Littrell, University Outreach and Extension University of Missouri Lincoln.
Each community has within itself the assets it can use to start building its own future. Community assessment is a process of discovery and inventory. But most importantly is based on the premise that people and local organizations have capacity. They have knowledge that is important, and resources exist that can be brought together to formulate a plan for the future and work to achieve it.
A community assessment process says to people within communities: You
have worth, you can contribute, you can plan, you can take ownership and
responsibility for your own future. This is very different than a needs
assessment- a deficiency approach-or an expert approach to working with
the community. The deficiency/expert model is based on the assumption that
a community has needs and "we" (the experts or trained professionals)
will figure it out for you. Underlying the needs/expert approach is the
belief that communities do not have the capability to shape their own future.
Does this imply that communities have all the wisdom, knowledge or
resources required to fully accomplish the work necessary to shape their
desired future? Of course not!
It does mean is that communities do have the capacity to shape, implement
and enforce local public policy that gives direction to how external resources
will be brought into the community. It is a matter of terms. On whose terms
is the future of community shaped? Is it those who live or those from somewhere
else or a mix of both each acting as co-equal partners to shape the future
of community and its interaction with the world beyond?
A very practical reason for community assessment is that it can start
the process of community ownership. People are much more likely to invest
in the process when they realize that they do have resources that can make
a difference and understand that they are valued partners in a process
of development. [Back]
In your final paper, you will discuss the implications of considering "violence" as a public health issue. Specially you will consider addressing the topic you have chosen (i.e. riots or youth violence) as a public health issue. What would the main benefits of such an approach? The main problems? Using Dayton as an example, discuss the strengths and weakness of Dayton in addressing the issue of violence that you selected. What changes would need to be made in the community, the public health system, the legal system for such an approach to work. This is a cooperative learning project. [Back]
You will present a 20 minute presentation at the end of the semester. Since everyone will have read your paper, your presentation should not be merely a recital of your paper. You should take some aspect of the overall topic and make a creative, informative, interactive presentation. [Back]
Copyright @ 1997. Vernellia R. Randall
All Rights Reserved.
2. "The Common assertion that moral values cannot be taught in law schools - or elsewhere to a person as mature as law students - misses the point that moral dilemmas cannot be answered well, or even recognized for what they are without the application of knowledge and analysis that makes the difference between blind choice [or obedience] and informed choice." Keeton, supra., 40 Md. L. Rev. at 211.
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