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CHKD program aims to prevent gun violence and assaults

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Posted at 1:40 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 18:28:45-04

NORFOLK, Va. - It's a call no parent should get: Your child has been shot and is rushed to the hospital. A trauma team suits up, all hands on deck.

It is a situation happening far too often at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD) - numbers that are alarming.

In 2019, there were 43 children admitted to CHKD for gunshot wounds or assaults. That number more than doubled in 2020 when 108 were admitted with gunshot or assault injuries.

In 2021, the number continued to be high at 84.

"We have seen kids as young as a 4 months old - kids in the wrong place at wrong time," said Cathy Peterson with the Trauma Department at CHKD.

Children who have been shot, stabbed or assaulted, landing at CHKD for life-saving treatment.

"They can come to the hospital and we can fix an injury, but there is an emotional side to the injury as well," said Peterson.

A ripple-down effect hitting their families and their communities.

"There is a second traumatic injury because they remember the event," said Camron Blue, Program Coordinator with Safer Futures.

Safer Futures is a new program stepping in.

"We do crisis intervention, assisting with family planning, mental health resources, advocacy in school systems and housing resources," said Blue.

In May 2019, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services awarded the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association Foundation a grant to implement Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs in select Virginia hospitals to help survivors of violence and to help prevent more violence from occurring.

CHKD’s trauma program received $200,000 in grant funding in June 2021 to develop a program in our region to help these children, their families and the communities where they live.

"A lot of these kids, once they are discharged, [they[]returned back to their home community or school where incident took place. They have to relieve incident and violence over again," said Blue.

The new hospital-based violence intervention program aims to meet families where they are, reduce the re-injury rate and strengthen neighborhoods.

The goal to not have children land in the hospital again.

"We don’t want these families to come back in two to three years later because maybe they are part of same gang or not safe environment for family to be in," said Peterson.

There are currently three victims and 20 family members enrolled in the program. Click here to learn more about it and the criteria.