OHSU Collaborates with City Police and Multnomah County DA on Teen Gun Violence

11/24/99    Portland, Ore.

Two-day program slated for Parkrose High School on November 29 & 30.

No longer can communities say, "It can¹t happen here." Teen gun usage is skyrocketing, and the places where teenagers are using guns to settle personal issues are of little consequence. A teenager dies in a game of Russian roulette and another teenager wants to even the score after a "name calling" incident while another teenager decides that suicide is the only answer to a problem. These scenarios and many more were the impetus for the COPS, DOCS and DA¹s program.

"This program teaches the realities of firearms and firearm injuries," said Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Oregon Health Sciences University associate professor and vice chairman for academic affairs and outreach in the Department of Family Medicine.

Through a collaborative effort of the Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County District Attorney¹s office, Multnomah County Violence Prevention Program, Legacy Emanuel Trauma Program, Physicians for Social Responsibility and OHSU School of Medicine. COPS, DOCS and DA¹s teenage gun-violence prevention program educates high school students about gun usage, effects of gun-related injuries and the legal ramifications of possessing and using a gun.

The two-part COPS, DOCS and DA¹s program will be presented to the class of Parkrose High School in Portland on November 29 and 30 at 8:15 a.m. The Monday segment presents the medical aspects of the program and the Tuesday segment presents the legal aspects. The program seeks to show a more realistic view of gun injuries and how the Oregon legal system defines illegal actions, particularly with regard to firearms and minors. A Portland police officer and representatives of the medical and legal communities presents the program.

"Every day kids are dying from firearms. This program is not a response to a specific incident but to a growing health concern. This program predated the Springfield and Littleton incidents," said Goldberg.

The medical segment of the program shows real physical damage caused by guns through the use of photographs and other visual aids, and discusses the emotional effects of gun injury to the victim and to the victim¹s family. Doctors discuss the perceptions of power and protection that a gun supplies versus the more realistic results of gun injuries and what usually proves to be a false sense of security.

The legal portion of the program builds on the issue of reality versus perception, explores attitudes about carrying a gun and stresses the importance of making choices that will not jeopardize a young person¹s future plans and dreams. The consequences of breaking the law are clearly and forcefully presented.