Gun violence and childhood trauma

Evidence shows that when children are exposed to weapons-related violence, their mental health suffers and they are significantly more likely to commit violent crimes.

Washington University in St. Louis leaders and community leaders will gather Monday, March 7, to address the impact of gun violence on children during “Gun Violence and Childhood Trauma,” to be held from 2-5 p.m. in the Clark-Fox Forum in Hillman Hall on the Danforth Campus.

Free and open to the public, the discussion is a part of a series of programs called “Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis.” Formed in spring 2015 as a yearlong look at one of America’s greatest public health challenges, this initiative invites scholars, medical professionals, community leaders and citizens to take a hard look at the serious, tragic public health consequences of gun violence in America.

The keynote speaker for the event is James Garbarino, senior faculty fellow at the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago.

His talk will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Melissa Johnson-Reid, professor at the Brown School and director of the Center for Violence and Injury Prevention.

Panelists will be Jerry Dunn, executive director of Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis; Greg Echele, CEO of the Family Resource Center; and Patrick Fowler, assistant professor at the Brown School.

“Gun violence takes a heavy direct toll in the form of death and injury, but beyond this immediate and visible harm is the fact that many other children in heavily impacted communities grow up in environments of fear and hopelessness,” Johnson-Reid said. “While we come together to end the violence, we must also attend to the normative needs of children to feel safe, to play, to learn, to heal, and to have hope for their future.

“The goal of this symposium is to highlight the need for and effective means of addressing the impact of trauma among our children while we work toward a time when gun violence is no longer a public health scourge,” she said.

Following the panel discussion, Garbarino will sign copies of his book, “Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned From my Twenty Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases.”

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