Health Education Needs to Educate More about Policy

mrubyan HBHE 680 1 Comment

Community members rally for Trayvon Martin

The Trayvon Martin case raises a whole slew of questions about how legislation can lead to many different citizen interpretations.  Anyone following the news during the past 2-3 days probably heard all about Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old boy who was shot by George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch man.  Zimmerman, alleges that Martin constituted a threat therefore triggering him to shoot Martin in self defense.  Following the shooting, police discovered that Martin was unarmed and was only carrying a bag of Skittles in his pocket after returning from a trip to the local convenience store.  Zimmerman remains uncharged as a result of Sanford Police’s interpretation of a 2005 law mandating that any Florida resident who feels threatened in any way can utilize a firearm in self-defense.

As public health practitioners, we need to be extremely cognizant of these types of laws and become actively engaged as health educators in educating citizens about them.  While this law does allow citizens to defend themselves in threatening situations, it can be interpreted in many different ways and could have a significant impact on the prevalence of youth violence.  Where do the boundaries lie?  When is it acceptable to shoot?  When is it not acceptable to shoot?  What can seem as a harmless interaction between two individuals, clearly can spiral out of control and lead to something much more destructive.  In an effort to reduce gun violence deaths, public health officials need to become more actively engaged in educating citizens as soon as laws like this Florida law are passed so that the line is clear.  Public health education is no longer just about getting people to know about what choices they can make, it’s about helping citizens understand how policy impacts their behavior.

Comments 1

  1. The death of Trayvon Martin was a shocker when i had heard that this even thad happened. i think that in Florida they need to change the law that you can utilize a firearm whenever you feel threatened. I mean most people feel threatened if another person just looks different that the usual normal person. I know in Florida where my grandma lives she feels threatened daily due to how the younger generation of people look and act and if the law is how it is, it is not just right. I think that they need to change the law to state that if nd only if the other person apposes as a danger risk to your life, then there and only there can you use a force that is deadly. For the fact in the Trayvon Martin case, Trayvon was unarmed and the officer was already standing over him so I dont understand why he need to pull his gun in self defense. It seems that having a bag of skittles in his pocket that he only wanted to taste the rainbow. Yet again in another discussion on the Trayvon Martin case with classmates why yet did the officer have to shoot to kill in this case, he could have shot to injure and to endure non movement, but no to kill and take the life of a 17 year young man.