Children’s hospitals across the country look forward to working with Congress and the Administration on bipartisan solutions to improve children’s health and well-being by reducing the trauma and deaths caused by violence. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Vital Statistics Report, firearms are the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults 15-24 years old—this is a public health crisis.
Today’s children and teens are impacted—directly and indirectly—by traumatic events in their environments. Violence in the home, in schools and in our neighborhoods has long-term effects. This violence can damage the health and well-being of victims, bystanders and children who have developed fear and anxiety about what might occur. According to published research, including from the CDC, children exposed to violence, crime and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, suffer from mental health disorders, resort to aggressive and violent behavior, and engage in criminal activity. For children not directly impacted, exposure to community violence still makes it harder to succeed in school.
Placing a stronger priority on public policies and programs that ensure safe environments for children requires bipartisan action. Important efforts could include:
We know early intervention improves socialization, resilience and empathy in children, and we know investments in children’s behavioral and mental health care, in education and in research pave a path to healthier adulthood. Creating safer homes, schools and communities for children to live, learn and play in is a goal we can all strive for together.
To learn more about resources and efforts to address children’s exposure to violence and build resilience, please contact your local children’s hospital.