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Public safety

Blog posts with a category of Public Safety.

Shining a Spotlight on Domestic Violence

By Kevin Sendi, New Oakland Executive Director

Throughout humankind, those in power have always exploited those with less,  whether it’s strong nations attacking the weak; owners and bosses abusing those beneath them, or men physically overpowering the so-called “Weaker sex.”

Along those lines, the hot topic of late has been NFL running back Ray Rice delivering a one punch, Tysonesque knockout of his then fiance, Janay, in an

Janay Rice

Atlantic City casino elevator. Janay may have enticed, angered or even hit him first. But in a civilized society, there’s no justification for a man to use superior strength to blast his wife into next week. A month later, after defending him staunchly, Janay married Rice.

After seeing a video of Rice dragging Janay off the elevator,  the NFL suspended him a mere 2 games, an act that speaks volumes about the pervasive plague of men exerting physical and emotional dominance over women and downplaying it for any number of reasons. (i.e, “she asked for it.”) The NFL received withering rebukes for the soft sentence.

In a hurried response, the NFL upped domestic violence to a 6 game suspension,  and then, only after the video of the punch was released by the gossip site TMZ, did they suspend Rice indefinitely.

Abuse of women is much worse elsewhere in the world than it is in modern, civilized societies like ours where for centuries brave women have fought for equal voting rights, fertility rights, work place equality and many other fundamental rights issues. But it’s of no consolation that women in Africa and Muslim women worldwide continue to suffer socially accepted atrocities like genital mutilation,  wear masks and body cover and being denied basic education. Do the men in these societies suffer from a collective mental illness? Or are they simply deluded by old-world religious taboos? The answer to both appears to be “Yes.”

Sadly, many anti-women taboos remain in the U.S., religious and otherwise, that deny women their hard fought rights to contraception, abortion, and overall subjugation to men. Societal contradictions die hard, and men resorting to violence against women  is a psychosis that may never go away.

The physical violence, like the left hook that left his supposed loved one unconscious,  is most alarming. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls sexual and intimate partner violence a substantial “public health burden.” Continue reading

A mental illness episode shatters an idyllic Michigan town


Dr. David HarrisPsychiatrist New Oakland Family Centers

Dr. David Harris
Psychiatrist New Oakland Family Centers

By David Harris, MD and New Oakland Medical Director

Kentwood is a place where you’ll find friendly faces, excellent services and safe neighborhoods. Walk up and down any of our tree-lined streets and you’ll see why life is

Jamarion Lawhorn

Jamarion Lawhorn

wonderful here.”

– From a Kentwood, MI Chamber of Commerce website

Life, for the most part, may indeed be idyllic in Kentwood, MI, but the peace, tranquility and image of a family oriented West Michigan town was shattered when, at 6 PM on August 4, 12 year-old

Jamarion Lawhorn repeatedly stabbed 9-year-old Michael Conner Verkerke in the back at the Pinebrook Village mobile home playground. Conner, as he was called, ran screaming to his home and collapsed bleeding on his porch as his mother desperately tried to keep him alive until EMS arrived. He died at a hospital that evening.

It would be nice if we had a handy answer for what drove Lawhorn to take a kitchen knife and then, unprovoked, approach and then murder a perfect stranger while he played with two other children. Perhaps we will come to know why, but for now we are dumbfounded.

After stabbing Connor in front of two of his friends, Lawhorn left the playground and approached Glen Stacy, who lived nearby , and asked to use his phone to call 911. According to Stacy, the child made statements about wanting his life to be over and told dispatchers,“I just stabbed somebody. Please pick me up.” When police arrived at the mobile home park, they first went to aid the stabbing victim, but Lawhorn, says Stacy, wanted the officers to first pick him up and yelled, “Hello. I’m right here. You’re going the wrong way.”

The only time he raised his voice was when the police came,” Stacy added. “He then told police, ‘I want to die. I don’t want to be on this earth anymore.’ He says the boy also explained that he had ‘taken too many pills’ and ‘nobody loved him.’”

Lawhorn is being charged as an adult with open murder. Detectives will be looking extensively into his background, talking with his parents and others who know him to try to piece together what was going on in his life at the time of the attack. Had, for example, Lawhorn been bullied?

Did adults – especially his parents, but also his teachers – miss or overlook essential clues? There may be many factors, and we all await the investigative results, but as parents and concerned adults we need to observe our kids more intensely than ever. Continue reading

America's deadliest health problem

IMG_0238Blog by Michele Bernard, RN, Director of Nursing, New Oakland

If I could get every American to watch and then take action, based on the new documentary, “Fed Up,” I’d be the greatest nurse in history. More realistically, if I can just touch those who I see or read this blog, I’d be quite satisfied.

The documentary, hosted by Katie Couric, explains how the sugar industry is systematically ruining our health via the obesity epidemic.sugar

Couric is angry, explaining that in trying to be the best mom she could be, she always went out of her way to feed her kids a low fat diet. After all, we’d been told for decades that we were fat because we ate too much fat. But what that really was, was just a big fat smokescreen. Fat provides flavor, so manufacturers simply substituted more sugar, and we all just got fatter. She adds, “Over 95% of all Americans will be overweight or obese in 2 decades. In 2050, one out of every 3 Americans will have diabetes.”

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to ban large sugared drinks in his city. Just the other day, that ban was thrown out by an appeals court because in infringed on people’s “personal autonomy.” In fact, it does infringe on personal decisions.

Continue reading