Chesapeake psychiatrist warns of damaging effects of youth gun violence

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 17:33:59-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — A recent rise in gun violence within Hampton Roads is taking the lives of children and impacting others now living with the trauma of becoming a young shooting victim.

Dr. Patricia King is a Chesapeake psychiatrist who says young people who experience trauma like gun violence can be at greater risk for anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder and dropping out of school.

“We have to address it. I mean, it's time. It's overdue, and you can see the progression of the gun violence in our communities every day."

In the past three days, a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old were shot in Chesapeake on Sir Gawaine Drive Wednesday night; a teenager and a preteen were hospitalized after a deadly shooting on Seaboard Avenue in Chesapeake Thursday; and four kids, ranging in age from 6-16, were shot in Norfolk on Madison Avenue on Friday.

Some people weather trauma events well while others have life-long issues.

“The younger they are, the more repetitive the trauma, the more likely it is to be chronic,” said King.

Trauma can be direct or it can be experienced from a distance, like witnessing or hearing of a friend or family member that is a victim of gun violence.

“We as adults and authority figures have a responsibility and obligation and duty to address these issues so that our children can be safe in the environments that they are being raised,” said King.

Dr. King says it’s important for parents to start conversations that allow their kids to express their emotions and know that it’s normal to be sad or cry.

“The open dialogue is really important. We need to be able to communicate with our children, and we need to reinforce the fact that we're doing everything in our power to keep them safe,” she explained.

Related: Norfolk leaders, Kaine discuss ways to end gun violence after uptick in crime

Dr. King says there’s comfort in the support system from a community, but ultimately changes need to made to make everyone safer.

“It needs to go to the point of legislation and the people that we elect need to stand up for us and make sure that we are safe in all of our communities - you know, not just some, but all of them,” said King.