Skip Navigation



 

Subscribe  

News Center Home   

Cover Story


Departments:

   Editor's Note

   Letters

   Welch Wanderings   

   Prologues


   Et Al

Table of Contents   

JHSPH Home

Publishing Staff

Health Advisory Board

Archives 

Email This Article 

Make a Gift   

Search the Magazine

  This section only
  Entire site

GENERATION NEXT

Michele Cooley    
Looking at violence in urban communities through a child’s eyes may help break the cycle of poverty, crime, and violence that has plagued inner cities for so long, believes Michele Cooley.

Looking at violence in urban communities through a child’s eyes may help break the cycle of poverty, crime, and violence that has plagued inner cities for so long, believes Michele Cooley.

Like adults, kids exposed to death and violence experience considerable anxiety and stress—emotions that they often keep bottled up, she says. The result: an impaired ability to concentrate in school that can put them far behind in their studies and at greater risk of entering the culture of drugs and crime. “A lot of times children don’t want to add to the distress of their already burdened parents, so they try to handle it themselves, but they’re ill-equipped—they’re children!” she says.

“If you listen to what some  young people  have lived through, it’s amazing that  they’re just not totally shut down.” 
     —Michele Cooley  

To help locate the kids most at risk, Cooley developed a school-based screening tool. The Children’s Report of Exposure to Violence assesses a child’s exposure to violence in the media, violence that they have directly witnessed, and incidents when they have been victims. Cooley works with children ages 8 to 12 identified through the survey, helping them develop effective coping strategies.

“Children are being exposed to violence at a phase in their development where it may very well be having stronger and longer effects, “ William Eaton, PhD, acting chair of Mental Health, points out. “Michele is doing yeoman’s work, both in her development of tools to identify these children and in her work with the children it identifies.”

Among other topics, Cooley has studied how inner-city culture affects reactions toward and tolerance of violence. And she recently began a major effort to adapt for the inner-city environment an Australian program proven to help kids cope with anxiety.

“We try to make a difference,” says Cooley, “because even a small difference is better than none at all.”

Michele Cooley
Assistant professor, Mental Health
PhD in clinical psychology,
University of Virginia, 1992
Faculty member since 1996