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REACH for answers

| Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Are Franklin Regional Senior High School mass-stabbing suspect Alex Hribal and Anjohnito Willet, the suspect in shootings outside Brashear High School, twins? Both committed acts of extreme violence at school and are being tried as adults.

It sends ripples of pain through our communities when we hear about dangerous behavior in our schools. It feels better to think of these boys as sociopathic adults who must be isolated from the rest of society.

However, brain research clearly indicates these boys won't have adult reasoning abilities until they are around age 23. Predicting when an eruption of violence will occur is extremely difficult; however, recognizing the warning signs of severe distress building up and taking steps to reduce this distress are very possible.

Colleagues Maureen McHugh, Christian Vaccaro and I have developed the REACH (Research, Education & Advocacy for Community Health) conference that will be held May 20-23 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. This conference will help attendees identify ways, whether big or small, they could contribute to a grassroots movement to make interpersonal violence a rare event.

If you come to the REACH conference, you may leave feeling tired and irritated that there is so much to think about if we want to end violence. If we build a community of determination, we can reduce acts of violence in our community. To register, go to

Pearl Berman

Indiana, Pa.

The writer is an IUP psychology professor.

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