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Community Health Improvement Plan - Violence

Violence is a unique factor in health outcomes in that the mere perception of a violent community or neighborhood can impact its health. In addition to the stress and strain associated with the fear for personal and family safety, a parent’s perception of an unsafe neighborhood may limit the outdoor activity of their children. The healthy utilization of parks and outdoor recreation may give way to indoor, more sedentary activities that ultimately contribute to poor health outcomes.

So, while there is much debate over the severity of the violence rates in Comanche County, there is little question that residents perceive there to be a problem, and that alone is sufficient to adversely affect health. To demonstrate this point, consider that county respondents to the 2010 Community Health Survey identified gang violence as the most commonly reported community health risk, while at the same time only 1.9% of the respondents reported anyone in their household experiencing gang-related violence.  In a related result, more than 50% of middle school respondents to the 2010 Lawton Middle School Survey believe that Comanche County is not a safe place to live. Additionally, these middle school students listed gang violence as their  #1 health risk.

It is also important to note that domestic violence, child abuse, and suicide are all critical indicators of a healthy community. The 2010 State of the County Health Report listed suicide as the 5th leading cause of death for ages 15-24. At the same time, 34.1% of respondents reported Comanche County was not a safe place to raise children (2010 Community Health Survey).  The 2014 Comanche County Profile is linked here: 2014 Comanche County Health Profile.

So, regardless of individual perspectives on violence in Comanche County, the issue of violence warrants the attention of committed citizens. We cannot afford to raise a generation of children who fear for their safety, whether it is fear of the streets, or fear from within the home. We must commit to establishing a safe community.

The 2010 State of the County’s Health Report lists the following facts related to violence in Comanche County:
• Suicide was the 5th leading cause of death 5-14.
• Suicide and Homicide were the 2nd and 3rd leading causes of death 15-24.
• Suicide and Homicide were the 2nd and 5th leading causes of death 25-34.
• Suicide and Homicide were the 4th and 5th leading causes of death 35-44.
• Suicide and Homicide were the 5th and 9th leading causes of death 45-54.

The Violence Work Group has two objectives:
By 2015, reduce the number of crimes reported annually by 10%.
By 2015, reduce the number of confirmed child abuse/neglect cases annually by 10%.

The group has seven strategies:
Strategy 1:  Enhance violence education in the community
Strategy 2:  Increase and maximize community resources
Strategy 3:  Enhance state Juvenile Justice System
Strategy 4:  Enhance and expand community programs
Strategy 5:  Increase domestic violence awareness and education
Strategy 6:  Influence media outreach
Strategy 7:  Provide support for adult stability

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