From the CEO

In the aftermath of the nation's recent gun-related tragedies, APA has committed to taking a broad view of the causes of violence in our society. As part of that effort, the association has established three working groups charged with amassing the best research on the antecedents of violence to help policymakers, law enforcement, educators and other concerned citizens make the most informed decisions about curbing violence.

These APA working groups and their missions are:

  • Task Force on Violent Media. This group will conduct a rigorous, comprehensive review of the scientific literature to evaluate APA's 2005 Resolution on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media and 1995 Resolution on Violence in Mass Media. The task force will determine whether these resolutions are still appropriate in light of more recent research findings.

    The task force is composed of seven senior scientists who have exemplary methodological and scientific expertise in meta-analysis, child development, learning, digital media, multicultural psychology and aggression. As part of its review process, the task force will seek input from the field of topical experts to address questions identified in the course of its work.

    The task force members are: Mark Appelbaum, PhD; Sandra Calvert, PhD; Kenneth Dodge, PhD; Sandra Graham, PhD; Gordon C. Nagayama Hall, PhD; Sherry Hamby, PhD; and Lawrence Hedges, PhD.
  • Gun Violence Prediction and Prevention Report Writing Group. This group is gathering psychological research on the prediction and prevention of gun violence, and determining where more research is needed. The group's report will be widely distributed to policymakers and the news media. Although the report will not represent official APA policy, it is expected to inform the work of a subsequent task force (see below) and other APA efforts on violence prevention. The group members are: Dewey Cornell, PhD; Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD; Nancy Guerra, PhD; Robert Kinscherff, PhD; Eric Mankowski, PhD; Marisa R. Randazzo, PhD, JD; Ellen Scrivner, PhD; Susan B. Sorenson, PhD; Doug Tynan, PhD; and Daniel W. Webster, ScD, MPH.
  • Policy Review Task Force on Gun Violence Prediction and Prevention. This task force will review and possibly recommend to amend or replace the 1994 Resolution on Firearm Safety and Youth. The group will be informed in part by the experts' report on gun violence described above. APA issued a call for nominations for this task force in mid-April. APA's board of directors will appoint the task force members.

    Even though Congress declined to enact gun-safety legislation earlier this year, it is possible that the issue will be revisited soon. In the meantime, it will be helpful for APA to be able to contribute current psychological research and expert evidence-based recommendations to the national debate on gun violence prevention. APA's related federal advocacy efforts continue to focus on enlisting support for the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act (S. 689), which passed the Senate by a resounding vote of 95 to 2 on April 18 as an amendment to the gun legislation. Unfortunately, it was lost when the underlying gun bill was withdrawn due to lack of sufficient support. S. 689 reauthorizes and improves vital federal education and mental health programs related to mental and behavioral health promotion and violence prevention, among other favorable provisions.

We are hopeful that this bill will be passed into law and that psychological research and our ongoing policy development will help to reduce the incidence of violence in our nation.