Senator Lesniak Headlines Kean Panel on Violence

May 2, 2013

Saying that it was time to declare violence a public health crisis in New Jersey, state Senator Raymond Lesniak delivered the keynote address at Kean University’s special conference, “Beyond Guns: Searching for Paths to Peace in a Violence World,” on May 1.

Senator Lesniak pointed out that violence takes a toll on the physical and mental health of tens of thousands of New Jersey residents, and he congratulated the work of an array of experts gathered in the University’s STEM Auditorium.

The conference coincided with the release of a Kean University poll which sought to measure public attitudes towards violence. The poll showed, for example, 82 percent support criminal background checks before gun sales, 64 percent said that they believe violent movies, television shows and video games contribute to violence in society, and 74 percent said that society is more violent today than it was 25 years ago. (The accompanying graphic shows other data from the poll. The full poll can be accessed on

Following the Senator’s speech, Beth Alder of Trinitas Regional Medical Center recounted her own experience in dealing with the victims of violence at a grass-roots level.

Two nationally known experts in the field of bullying, Roni Benson and Ginger Lieberman, presented a workshop designed to educate teachers and the general public in the causes and consequences of bullying.

Three panelists, Jan Lilien of the YWCA of Eastern Union County, Marcellus Allen, a former gang member who is now president of Saving Our Selves, and Stephen Whitty, film critic of the Star-Ledger, discussed the roots of violence from several perspectives. Ms. Lilien talked about the consequences of domestic violence, Mr. Allen discussed life in the streets of urban America, and Mr. Whitty talked about the effects of violence in movies, video games, and other popular entertainment.

The event, attended by some 250 students, staff, and guests of the University, was sponsored by the Kean University Center for History, Politics, and Policy.

The graphic below is a visual representation of poll results.