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The Washington Post: Opinion: Children are suffering from gun violence — even if it’s blocks away from their home

From The Washington Post: In our hometown of Philadelphia, 2021 is on pace to be the most violent year in the city’s history, with more than 1,800 people, including more than 170 children under age 18, killed or injured by a gun since January. These numbers are staggering, but they tell only part of the story. Each of these 1,800 victims has family members, neighbors and friends who have also been affected. At one pediatric primary care clinic in West Philadelphia, 70 percent of patients — all of them children or young adults — had one or more shootings on their block in the past year.

So when we consider how gun violence affects children, we must think not only about shooting victims and their families, but also about the many children who grow up listening to gunshots at night, bearing witness to neighborhood violence and seeing newly empty seats in their classrooms.

As physicians, we know that trauma and adverse childhood experiences, including exposure to violence, have long-term negative effects on children’s mental health. Children exposed to trauma have higher rates of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are also more likely to be withdrawn, irritable and display disruptive behaviors in school in the following years.

Read the full story in The Washington Post.