People against gun violence gathered at Harold Washington Playlot Park for the second annual Wear Orange Party for Peace event June 2, 2016, as part of National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
Two Illinois members of Congress plan to introduce legislation aimed at helping identify and aid children who have experienced violence-induced trauma.
The Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act would create a federal task force and expand Medicaid coverage for child trauma services, while increasing mental health care in schools, among other steps, officials said.
While working to learn more about Chicago’s gun violence, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said he visited the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center about nine months ago and was told that most of the children there had previously experienced trauma. A 2004 study of the juvenile detention center found that 92 percent of detained youth had experienced a trauma, officials said.
"Many of these kids have faced terrible things no one should face, and it impacts their lives," the Democratic senator said in an interview.
Colleen Cicchetti, executive director of the Center for Childhood Resilience, worked with officials on the bill and said chronic exposure to stress and trauma creates risk that needs to be addressed.
Some children’s "fight or flight" mechanism is so frequently being triggered that their bodies are on constant alert, creating problems that can affect their ability to concentrate and function at school and work.
"It may work for you on Saturday night at 110th and Halsted (streets)," Cicchetti said. "But you walk to school and you’re bouncing into trouble at every moment."
Cicchetti said she’s optimistic the bill, also backed by U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Chicago, would give individual kids skills that would help them stop from participating in violence and better cope with trauma.
The task force created by the bill would coordinate research, review models and develop a strategic plan to address trauma, officials said.
The bill would also authorize an additional $20 million funding increase for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative to evaluate "new strategies that improve trauma-informed care."
It would also make training recommended by the task force eligible for major federal grant programs, including early childhood programs like Head Start and educational grants, officials said.
Other steps include training programs to prepare educators to work with students who have experienced trauma and the authorization of a grant program to support the development of state and local coordinating bodies to identify needs, collect data, build skills and develop a strategic community plan, officials said.
Nearly 35 million children across the country have had at least one serious traumatic experience, and roughly two-thirds of children have been exposed to violence, officials said. At Chicago Public Schools, 30 percent of students with a reported personal history of abuse or neglect received an out-of-school suspension during the 2013-14 school year, officials said.
And a 2012 study found that when young students in Chicago were examined within a week of a homicide that occurred near their home, the children exhibited lower levels of attention, impulse control and cognitive skills, officials said.
Early intervention for youth who have been affected by violence is important, Durbin said.
"I think it’s part of the solution to the violence we see in our streets here and across the country," Durbin said.
This article was sourced from http://whitetailhuntingnews.com