Local violence prevention conference offers insights for community

Walla Walla is fortunate to have people with the vision and energy to focus on such an important topic.

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Walla Walla might be a relatively small community, but it accomplishes some big things because people care deeply about each other and work together.

Next week the Walla Walla Valley Violence Prevention Coalition will hold its second annual conference.

It is titled "Stop Violence Now -- For Yourself, Your Family, Our Community" and it opens Monday at 7 p.m at Whitman College's Maxey Hall with a keynote speech by Dr. Vincent Felitti.

Felitti, a physician, has done extensive research into the interconnections of childhood trauma -- including violence -- to problems in adult life. The title of his conference-opening address is "Adverse Childhood Experiences: Understanding the Links Between Violence and Illness."

Felitti's work is noted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website where there is extensive information abut his Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study.

"Childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to other traumatic stressors which we term adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are common. Almost two-thirds of our study participants reported at least one ACE, and more than one of five reported three or more ACE. The short- and long-term outcomes of these childhood exposures include a multitude of health and social problems," according to information on the CDC website on the major findings of Felitti's ACE study.

On Tuesday, the conference will continue at Whitman College at 8:45 a.m. as Felitti leads a sesson titled, "ACEs: Roots of Violence, Seeds of Hope."

Following Felitti's session there will be smaller sessions in which a number of a local professionals in law enforcement and social services, as well as parents, will lead groups to discuss topics ranging from raising boys to overcoming immigrant barriers to the difficulty of investigating child sexual abuse. These sessions will be all day long on the Whitman College campus.

That evening at St. Patrick Catholic Church's Blanchet Hall starting at 5 there will be a community fun night. Dinner and childcare will be provided. Topics discussed Tuesday evening will be "Being an Xbox Parent in a PlayStation World Full of Nintendos and Wiis" as well as discussions of Internet safety and other topics.

It's an impressive agenda and should be particularly enlightening for parents and those who work with children.

The Walla Walla Valley is fortunate to have opportunities to have access to these types of conference and even more fortunate this community has so many talented people with the vision and energy to make them happen.

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