Friday marks National Gun Violence Awareness Day and the start of Wear Orange Weekend, created to honor the victims of gun violence.

Awareness? What about action?!?

That response would be understandable considering the following statistics:

• According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the organization behind the Wear Orange movement, 120 Americans are killed with guns every day.

• Guns are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children under the age of 18, according to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine.

• There have been another 14,807 injuries this year in the United States due to gun violence as of May 31, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

• In Philadelphia alone, there have been 149 lives lost this year due to gun violence as of May 31. This is coming off a year in which Philadelphia experienced 514 homicides, setting a record for the second year in a row.

The gun violence epidemic is complex. There isn’t a solitary play call that will make it disappear overnight.

But there is reason for optimism. The Eagles provided nine local nonprofits whose mission is to help end gun violence with over $400,000 in grant money from the Social Justice Fund. Organizations interested in applying for funding can learn more here. Each of these nonprofits is tackling the issue from a different vantage point.

“Clearly gun violence is a crisis that affects everybody, but most importantly, it impacts the physical and mental health of our children,” said Joel Fein, MD, MPH, who co-directs the Center for Violence Prevention at CHOP with Stephen Leff, PhD. “What gives us hope is seeing how our Center’s research and programs in clinical settings, classrooms, homes, and neighborhoods help our patients and their families rise above the adversities that they may face each day.”

CHOP’s Center for Violence Prevention was established 10 years ago in the wake of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took the lives of 20 children and six adults. Aiming to bring all the existing initiatives related to aggression and violence at CHOP under one umbrella, CVP was formed, and its vision is to be a national leader and innovator in violence prevention programming and research, supporting communities in which children, teens, and families can be safe and thrive.

According to the Center for Violence Prevention, more than 40 percent of kids in the U.S. are exposed to some form of violence – in their home, their schools, or their neighborhoods. There are six main pillars to the Center for Violence Prevention’s work that feature touchpoints at any of its patient care facilities, at schools, and in the community:

• Bullying Prevention – CVP’s evidence-based bullying prevention programs, implemented in schools throughout the School District of Philadelphia, teach children as young as third- to fifth-graders the skills needed to prevent bullying in schools by understanding feelings, recognizing social cues, and being positive and proactive bystanders. Teaching youth valuable problem-solving and conflict-management skills early in life can help prevent future violent acts from occurring.

• Community Violence and Trauma Support – Through CVP’s trauma-informed model, these programs promote physical and emotional health and safety for youth and families impacted by trauma and/or violence. Children between the ages of 8-18 who are treated at the CHOP Emergency Department for an assault-related injury are eligible to meet with a social worker to learn about CHOP’s Violence Intervention Program, which provides trauma-informed advocacy and intensive case management to help youth and their families recover.

• Gun Safety – Gun safety device distribution is currently underway at three of CHOP’s Primary Care practices and for behavioral health patients in CHOP’s Emergency Department. Healthcare providers have nonjudgmental conversations with families about guns in the home and, if appropriate, offer educational resources and gun safety devices at no cost. To date, more than 2,700 free safety devices have been provided to families to help keep guns locked away from children and this work is currently being expanded in other inpatient and outpatient settings at CHOP.

• Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Prevention – STOP IPV at CHOP is a multi-component, collaborative program, jointly supported by CHOP and Lutheran Settlement House. STOP IPV is designed to address intimate partner violence and teen dating violence, while also considering the impact of community violence on individuals and families.

• Suicide Prevention – CVP aims to strengthen CHOP’s youth suicide prevention efforts and increase patients’ access to mental health services. CVP leverages technology to help screen teenagers for many behavioral health issues, including depression and suicidal thoughts, regardless of why they came to the Emergency Department. CVP also works with the Department of Psychiatry on the Zero Suicide initiative.

• Professional Development and Training – CVP provides trauma-informed care training and consultation for staff in medical settings, schools, social agencies, and law enforcement agencies. This includes recognizing and addressing reactions related to pre-existing trauma and identifying children who need additional monitoring or referrals for more help. Additionally, to combat racism, CVP is contributing to the development of internal anti-racism trainings and programs at CHOP as well as school-based interventions to prevent youth microaggressions.

The Center for Violence Prevention has also learned that people do not need to be shot to be a victim of gun violence. A 2021 research paper, in a joint effort between CHOP and Penn, unearthed how the mere exposure of neighborhood gun violence increased pediatric mental health-related visits to the ED among children living within four to five blocks of a shooting.



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