Public Health Experts Hope Private Funding will Increase Gun Violence Studies

January 19, 2017

A group of 80 public health experts recently released “an agenda for action” in hopes of increasing private funding for gun violence studies. In the past, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prohibited funding for studies that could advocate for gun control, leaving foundation and private organization to try to fill the gap. “I’m hopeful, far more than I would have been a few years ago,” said faculty fellow Jeffrey Swanson, “there is a productive conversation afoot between policy and research.”

STAT News »

Did Obama Fail Black Americans?

William (Sandy) Darity January 18, 2017

Faculty Fellow William Darity Jr. believes Barack Obama should have been more aggressive in helping those most affected by the economic downturn, including creating a national jobs program and providing resources to those affected by the mortgage crisis. “At the onset of the ‘Great Recession,’ blacks had, at the median, 10 cents per dollar of the wealth held by whites. Today, it’s about five cents per dollar,” he said.

CBC Radio-Canada »

An App to Identify Autism

January 18, 2017

A new app could be used to determine whether a child has autism, according to faculty fellow Geraldine Dawson. The app plays video while a camera captures facial expressions and behavior of the child. Computer algorithms then analyze the data and advise the user if the child is at risk of autism. “This could be a low-cost, scalable screening tool for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in early childhood,” Dawson said.

Straight Times »

How Gestures Can Aid in Early Learning

Makeba Wilbourn, Duke University January 17, 2017

Faculty Fellow Makeba Wilbourn studies how children learn language. She recently received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. “One of the reasons why I think my work is positioned to make a somewhat unique impact is I’m looking at how early gesture use influences learning, which is in itself not novel … , but I’m looking at how cultural factors play a role,” she says.

The Duke Chronicle »

Early Childhood Interventions Could Reduce Long-term Costs

January 13, 2017

Researchers, including several Center faculty fellows, have found that a small portion of the population is responsible for the large majority of social service costs. Terrie Moffitt explains that providing early childhood interventions could reduce such costs in the long run. The findings, she says, should push policymakers to see effective preschool programs as “good returns on investment.”

BOLD » The Duke Chronicle »

Private Gun Sale Loophole is Smaller Than Thought

January 12, 2017

For decades, policymakers and advocates have had to rely on an estimate made in 1994 that 40 percent of gun transfers did not involve a background check. A new, much needed study puts the number at 22 percent. “Perhaps unexpectedly, the updated figure actually strengthens the case for a national, universal background check law,” says Phil Cook, a faculty fellow who is a gun policy expert.

The Trace » Mother Jones » The Guardian » Reuters Health » Reason.com »

The Struggle to Define Mental Illness in Gun Legislation

Jeffrey Swanson, Duke University January 10, 2017

Following the January 6 shooting at an airport in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, the debate and controversy surrounding gun access and mental illness has reemerged. The federal government’s definition of mental illness is “too broad and also too narrow,” according to faculty fellow Jeffrey Swanson. Those who fall under the government’s current definition of mentally ill are unlikely to be violent, and the definition misses many who are at an elevated risk of lashing out if they had access to firearms. “Gun control in our country isn’t really gun control. It’s people control,” said Swanson. “And how we do that is complicated.”

The Trace »

Screen Time for Children Should be Based on Research, Not Hype

January 6, 2017

Dozens of scientists, including Faculty Fellow Candice Odgers, write that guidelines on screen time for children should be based on research, not hype. “While we agree that the wellbeing of children is a crucial issue and that the impact of screen-based lifestyles demands serious investigation, the message that many parents will hear is that screens are inherently harmful,” they write. “This is simply not supported by solid research and evidence.”

The Guardian »