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Learning How to Prevent Injury and Violence (Health 420)

Public Health student Alyson Cundiff shares why Injury and Violence Prevention is a class to consider.

Have you ever wondered how many fatalities are caused by lightning strikes each year? What about the number of people who are injured by dog bites? If these topics sound interesting, injury and violence prevention is the class for you. As a health promotion major, I found great value in Health 420 because of the wide variety of subjects—I learned about everything from gang violence to occupational injuries.

Alyson Cundiff, Health Promotion ('19)

This class is unique because we talk about preventable health concerns. In the public health curriculum, we often learn about reducing the number of cases of a disease; but, with unintentional injury and death, we study the factors we can alter to prevent bad outcomes. For example, changing the design of road barriers to absorb the impact of a collision along with car safety features like seatbelts and collapsible steering wheels can prevent car crash fatalities. Learning how to identify preventable factors is exciting because it creates so much space to make changes that will lead to better health outcomes.

Another fascinating element of Health 420 is the violence unit. Subjects like child abuse and dating violence are difficult to discuss, but knowledge is the first step towards positive change. Often, we don’t learn about what can be done to prevent violence because it is seen as difficult to control or a police issue. In this course, we learn how to use education and early intervention for individuals who might be prone to violent behavior in order to reduce deaths.

Professor Steve Thygerson is such an entertaining and passionate teacher who makes class time fly by. He is so knowledgeable. Having him to answer my questions made my experience more personal and meaningful. I left this class feeling inspired by the vast amount of ways to make a difference in the world of injury and violence prevention. I found new problems, like trampoline injuries, that make me want to be a part of finding the solutions. Ultimately, I left Health 420 feeling eager to get out into the community and focus on preventing unintentional injury and death. The truth is that lives are changed daily as loved ones die and individuals are left with debilitating injuries that could have been prevented with simple actions. Because I took Health 420, I want to identify the small things, like wearing seatbelts, that can make a massive difference in saving the lives of people in my community.