Gun violence & its connection to children’s health

Last month, on the massacre’s 1-year anniversary, America remembered and mourned the horrific shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. The Guardian reports, however, that a new gun violence nonprofit is working to ensure gun violence awareness is covered more than just one day a year.

SinceParkland.org, as the organization’s name suggests, shares the narratives of all children and teen victims of gun violence that have occurred since the tragedy at Parkland. The group reports that since February 14, 2018, the date of the Parkland shooting, guns have killed over 1,200 American kids and teenagers. While the events that led to these tragedies vary—some incidents were acts of domestic violence, while others were accidents—SinceParkland.org focuses on showcasing the lives of victims rather than the details of their deaths.

Projects like SinceParkland.org demonstrate that gun violence in America is not a handful of isolated  events, but in fact an everyday problem. Guns pose obvious and immediate threats to life which, in America, know no bounds. Shootings have happened across our nation’s parks, malls, and schools. As if this weren’t abhorrent enough, in addition to putting entire lives in danger, gun violence has further consequences on the psychological health of students who feel at risk.

In Washington DC, for example, guns killed 13 minors last year alone. Programs like TraRon’s Center provide opportunity for kids to use art and therapy to cope with trauma associated with gun violence. Many kids in the program report difficulty sleeping, and some struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Nationwide, however, only 1 in 5 kids with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders receive appropriate health care for those challenges. This ratio could be even worse in low-income areas where affordable health care is less common and gun violence more frequent.

The issue of gun violence and its relation to children’s health is multifaceted. TraRon’s Center and other similar initiatives are exposing this complicated relationship: gun violence is not just a crime issue, it’s a public health issue and a children’s health issue.