April is recognized as National Minority Health Month, which presents a great opportunity to focus on health disparities in minority communities. April 7-13 is also National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to raise awareness for victims and the effect that the victimization has on victims.
On Tuesday, April 9, a march and press conference on the grounds of the State Capitol was held, to educate minority residents about prevention, intervention, and survivorship.
The event featured a number of education speakers, such as Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliot, Pine bluff Police Department’s LT. Hosea Thompson, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office Major Carl Minden and Dr. Marian Lothery of UAPB/ MISRGO.
The Women’s Council on African American Affairs, Inc. (WCAAA) addressed health inequities and chronic illnesses, such as cancer sickle cell anemia and cardiovascular disease. They also addressed risk factors such as tobacco use, obesity and poor eating habits.
Unfortunately, one of the major risk factors for poor health is the level of crime activity one is exposed to. A 2007 study in the American Journal of Public Health showed that people with a strong fear of crime are almost twice as likely to show symptoms of depression, have decreased physical functioning and lower quality of life.
A second study in the Journal of Pediatrics found 90 percent of children exposed to some form of violence had reactions characterized as traumatic stress, and 20 percent were at high risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Nearly one-third of the children had allergies, asthma or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Communities across the country are hosting events this week to honor crime victims and recognize those who advocate on their behalf. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has also declared this week as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Arkansas.
“As a former prosecutor, I have worked with victims of violence,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And as Attorney General it is important for me to promote safer communities and honor the advocates who empower victims and survivors of violence. I offer my sincere prayers for protection and healing. I will continue to support and thank the countless members of law enforcement and victim advocates in communities across Arkansas.”
Victims of crime may receive financial assistance to cover the medical and funeral expenses incurred by the victim or the victim’s family.
Victims may apply for compensation by submitting an application to the Attorney General’s office. Applications are available at ArkansasAG.gov or from Arkansas’s 28 elected prosecuting attorneys.