Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012, there have been over 900 school shootings in the United States, according to Sandy Hook Promise. The most recent tragedy in Texas was predictable and preventable. At Connecticut Children’s, our Injury Prevention Center relies on research and science in providing answers to how we can keep our children safe through violence prevention.
We know that states like Connecticut that have stronger gun laws have fewer firearm deaths. Unfortunately, we cannot close our borders and are impacted by lax laws in other states around the country. If we want to protect children, we need to enact common sense safety measures on the national level. Measures like universal background checks, red flag laws to take guns away from those who are deemed dangerous, and a ban on assault style weapons would be a good start. There are other things we can do, but the above measures are the bare minimum.
While we wait for our leaders to take strong action, Connecticut Children’s is working with our community partners to address the everyday firearm violence we see in our cities. Recently, we announced the Hartford Hospital-based Violence Intervention Program (HVIP) Collaborative. This is a partnership between Connecticut Children’s, Trinity Health, Hartford Hospital, Mother’s United Against Violence, COMPASS Youth Collaborative, and Hartford Communities That Care. The HVIP Collaborative will bring needed resources to families and individuals impacted by violence to prevent re-injury, and to prevent retaliation. Many of our young people are caught up in a cycle of violence and children flow through the medical system through primary care offices and emergency departments, dealing with the trauma of violence exposure, victimization, and perpetration. For urban trauma centers, HVIP is a strategy to provide quality care that results in violence prevention. HVIP involves screening, intervening, discharge planning, and long-term care coordination.
In truth, this work is not new but the new HVIP Collaborative is designed to provide a higher level of coordination among its partners and to strengthen existing services. The City of Hartford has been invested in this work since 2007 when Hartford put out a request for proposals for a violence prevention program using a “Youth Street Worker” modeled after successful programs in Boston, Providence, and New Haven. I was fortunate enough at that time to represent Connecticut Children’s on the panel that reviewed those proposals and made recommendations on awards. In addition, Hartford Communities That Care has been engaged in some version of this work in cooperation with Saint Francis Hospital since 2004. Throughout all these efforts, and the years between them, community agencies like Hartford Communities That Care, COMPASS Youth Collaborative, and Mothers United Against Violence have been a constant presence working to stop violence. These efforts were pursued despite a chronic lack of funding, or underfunding.
It certainly has been an evolution in thinking to get us collectively to the point where all three trauma centers in Hartford are now implementing a coordinated HVIP effort. This remarkable collaboration is poised to bring the supports to families and individuals that they need in the time that they need them.
While our HVIP efforts are designed to promote change over the long-term in communities, you can make a difference in your community, for your family, by locking away your firearms to make sure that no child or young adult has access to them. In Connecticut, over half of gun deaths are suicide deaths. Securely locking away your firearms is the most important action you can take if you own firearms.
If you are feeling hopeless or thinking about killing yourself, 24/7 support is available:
- Call 2-1-1 in Connecticut
- Call 800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Text 741741 for the Crisis Text Line
To read additional articles on the Advancing Kids Blog focused on Injury Prevention, click here.
Kevin Borrup, DrPH, JD, MPA, is the executive director of Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center.
Categories: Injury Prevention