Quelling violence requires help on many fronts

    The ripple effect of violence affects communities in many different ways — hurting children and families, health, mental health, education, businesses and on and on.

    Professionals from all over the U.S. and many different disciplines were in Philadelphia this week, discussing innovative ways to intervene and help.


    A main theme for the conference of the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs was something called “trauma informed care,” care that takes into account the traumatic experiences people have had.

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    Drexel University’s Dr. John Rich works with Philadelphia’s “Healing Hurt People” program, which connects with youth who have been shot or assaulted while they are still in the hospital.

    He says understanding that people have been hurt and traumatized is key in providing good care and services — across many disciplines.

    “It’s not what’s wrong with this person, but what has happened to this person,” explained Rich. “So if you have police officers who are really concerned about families who are being traumatized, I don’t care what you call it, that is trauma informed practice on the ground, and they can call it what they need to call it in order to fully embrace the idea.”

    Speakers from across the country shared strategies that have worked in their cities.

    What has made a difference with gang violence in Los Angeles is a new breed of cops policing gang neighborhoods, said civil rights attorney Connie Rice. Their goal, she said, is not to lock up kids – but to keep them out of jail.

    “They are connecting families with services, with mentors, they are working with their school, they are making sure they have the resources, after-school programs,” Rice said. “They are acting more like social workers than cops.”

    Conference participants agreed that getting law enforcement, ex-offenders, community members, health-care professionals and politicians around the same table is vital to achieving a reduction in violence.

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