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2017 Annual Meeting

September 12–14, 2017

Aurora, Colorado

The links below contained detailed information for the upcoming 2017 Safe States Alliance Annual Meeting, taking place September 12-14, 2017 in Aurora, Colorado.

Please note:

Implications of brain and social development for child and youth injury prevention

Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 8:00 AM–9:15 AM MDT
Aurora Ballroom 4
Learning Objectives

 In this session, participants will:

  1. Explore the potential linkages between brain and social development in childhood and adolescence and patterns of unintentional and violent injury in age groups under 25.
  2. Identify opportunities to tailor injury and violence prevention activities to the developmental needs of children and youth.
Statement of Purpose


The purpose of this presentation is to show the relationship between child and adolescent brain development and injury, and to explore the implications for prevention.



Patterns of injury among children and youth under 25 vary by age group. A data-driven, research-informed perspective allows planners to hone in on an age group’s most common injuries and tailor prevention to that group’s risks and assets. Public Health-Seattle & King County and our partners have taken this approach in the past; for example, with effective drowning prevention work aimed at toddlers and preschoolers. We approached our child and youth injury data with a focus on brain development to learn more.

In 2015, King County passed the Best Starts for Kids levy, an innovative approach funding early interventions and supports at critical developmental periods to improve the health and well-being of children, youth, and young adults in the county. Supported by Best Starts for Kids and encouraged by its focus on brain development and equity, we analyzed a 13-year set of data on unintentional and violent injury before age 25 to find the most common injuries; age group differences; and sex, race and ethnicity-based disparities. We examined our findings alongside self-reported risk behaviors and literature on social development and developmental neuroscience.


Our local data show differences in injury across age groups. Death and hospitalization from assault and homicide peak in infancy and late adolescence/early adulthood, with very low rates in middle childhood. Unintentional injury follows a similar pattern, and death and hospitalization for self-inflicted injury rise steeply from early adolescence into young adulthood. Gender differences show elevated risk of most injuries for boys and young men, and disparities by race and ethnicity vary by type of injury. Patterns of injury mechanism show links to developmental milestones related to spatial and communication skills, social development, understanding of rules, cause/effect comprehension, past trauma and peer relationships.

Conclusions & Significance to the Field

Brain and social development play a role in creating risk for - or protection against – injury. Evidence-based and research-informed approaches mindful of brain and social development and trauma could improve prevention of specific injuries in specific age groups and populations, leading to population-level prevention outcomes.


Karyn M. Brownson, MSW, Public Health - Seattle & King County

Karyn Brownson works on child and youth injury prevention at Public Health - Seattle and King County, funded by King County's Best Starts for Kids levy. Karyn earned her MSW from the Hunter College School of Social Work in 2002. She spent much of her career working on youth leadership and engagement in the nonprofit sector in New York City and Seattle, until she was hired by the Washington State Department of Health as the project manager and lead writer on the state's 2016 suicide prevention plan. Her interests include adolescent behavioral health, the prevention and mitigation of childhood trauma, and weaving racial justice and health equity into public health practice.


Primary Contact

Karyn M. Brownson, MSW, Public Health - Seattle & King County