Violence is a major public health and public safety issue not just in Chicago, but across the nation. It affects all of us in the places we live, work, go to school, and play. Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is proud of the work we do to address violence—from identifying and treating child maltreatment to building resilience among traumatized children to mentoring youth. And we are excited that the American Hospital Association is calling on all hospitals to undertake similar efforts with its Hospitals Against Violence initiative and HAVhope Day of Awareness.
Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY) is a violence prevention collaborative convened by Lurie Children’s. SCY encourages everyone to take action to prevent violence through our Focus on Five. In recognition of the HAVhope Day of Awareness, SCY offers the following vision for how hospitals and the health care system can advance the Focus on Five.
- Sustained investment in children and youth: Risk factors can be identified through individual clinical interventions (e.g., developmental screening), programs with health components (e.g., early childhood education, high quality schools), and programs undertaken in partnership with health care (e.g., Reach Out and Read, Medical-Legal Partnership for Children). Adopting an innovative healthcare vision will ensure children have the safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments they need to fulfill their potential.
- Equitable access to high quality mental health services: With a shortage of mental health services in the US, particularly for children and adolescents, it is incumbent upon the health/mental health sector to improve its ability to serve those with the greatest mental health needs. Training new professionals, building the capacity of the existing workforce, emphasizing team-based approaches to care coordination, and reducing the stigma associated with obtaining mental health services will help interrupt the cycle of “hurt people, hurt people.”
- Common sense approaches to gun violence prevention: Healthcare providers are well positioned to identify the individuals at greatest risk for firearm injuries (e.g., adolescents experiencing crisis, women in abusive relationships) and work with them and their families to implement safety strategies. Healthcare providers have the unique ability to provide counseling that combines knowledge of a family’s circumstances with realistic information about the dangers of firearms.
- Juvenile justice system that reflects what we know about adolescent development: Substantial amounts of violent or otherwise “criminal” behavior can be explained developmentally. For example, adolescents often engage in risk-taking and people who have been traumatized may self-medicate through substance abuse. The healthcare sector can provide tremendous expertise regarding human development and how systems can interact positively with people.
- Sustained investment in strong communities: As health care evolves, the healthcare sector is increasingly called upon to care for the health of communities, not just the health of individuals. The healthcare sector can use population health data to identify opportunities to strengthen communities.
For more information about how Lurie Children’s created SCY and how SCY is working to prevent violence in Chicago, please visit SCY’s website or view this archived American Hospital Association webinar.
#HAVhope #scy #FocusOnFive