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Relationships have ups and downs, but certain types of behavior in any relationship are unacceptable and abusive. Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the epidemic is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This rings especially true when the abuse psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet can leave deep and lasting scars.
Human trafficking has long been an international concern, but did you know that trafficking could be happening in your own neighborhood? News features on this topic often concentrate on women and children in third world countries who have been forced into the sex trade industry involuntarily, but this industry has evolved into one of the most lucrative businesses worldwide. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, human sex trafficking is "the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world." What you may not know is that human trafficking is growing in the United States and takes place right here in Middle Tennessee.
Parents dropping their kids off at school may not realize their child sits next to a young person in the foster care system. Students may not realize their classmate is not going home to his or her own parents, but to a group home or foster care placement. No sign on this child would alert anyone that he or she has likely suffered abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
In Tennessee, gang presence has been on the rise since the late 1980s and early 1990s, when gangs first made a concerted push into the state. Since 2011, police have identified at least 5,000 gang members in Davidson County, and gang-related crimes have increased by 25%. Meanwhile, cities with 50,000 or fewer inhabitants have seen gang-related crimes triple in frequency nationally since 2005.
In today's climate of economic uncertainty, Middle Tennesseans may be concerned about the potential of rising crime. Fortunately, there are ways we can work together to protect ourselves and our communities from crime.
Crime prevention cannot be achieved by one body alone. Rather, effective crime prevention results from a web of institutions, agencies, and daily life — including communities, families, schools, and the legal institutions of policing and criminal justice.
The dramatic achievements of public health in the 20th century have improved our quality of life in a myriad of ways, including an increase in life expectancy, worldwide reduction of infant and child mortality rates, and the elimination or reduction of many communicable diseases. In Middle Tennessee, improvements in preventive medicine and advanced medical technology have resulted in increased life expectancy and improved health for many residents. However, significant health disparities exist in our region, resulting in poor health status often related to economic status, race, and/or gender.
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