Kids Health Matters: Youth Violence

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Violence can be a danger to many kids and no community is immune. But one local program is seeking solutions by involving children themselves.

The Sandy Hook School massacre shocked a nation, and got doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia thinking about the young victims they treat.

Dr. Rachel Myers says "We hear from so many kids that we work with that violence is pervasive in their lives."

Whether fights in school or shootings on the street, it's the reality of many neighborhoods.

Adolescents face other forms of violence, including bullying, dating violence, child abuse, and suicide.

So the hospital launched the Violence Prevention Initiative, as a bridge to agencies, community groups, and, most importantly - Philadelphia's young people.

And last September, teens led the way sharing their views on making a safer world, at a town hall meeting co-hosted with WURD radio.

Sixteen-year-old Tamir Harper is already a veteran activist in his community.

Tamir says, "I used to walk through my community and see things I was not pleased with, so I asked people how I can get involved."

Tamir is also constantly listening to other teens.

He believes fewer would stray with more caring adults. "Some of them need support in their education, some just want someone to cheer them on when they play a sport." he said.

Tamir says many want mentors, but are scared to ask.

Dr. Rachel Myers says CHOP's initiative develops PEER mentors from kids who've seen and experienced violence.

She said, "It's not just what us adults think are the problems. We might miss the mark."

Tamir urges more teens to become active in their own neighborhoods - even picking up trash makes a difference.

"It's the little things in a community that can grow the community as a whole," he said.

And the Violence Prevention Initiative works on all forms of violence - in the home, and in the schools - in hopes of breaking the cycle.

For more information, including how to get involved, check the Violence Prevention Initiative website .

To view more of the children's town hall meeting, co-hosted by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, WURD 900 AM, and WHYY, click here.