Youth Violence

When violence strikes a city, we ask why? And how can we stop it?

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Lou Gilbert
Photo:Chion Wolf
Laura Saunders
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Youth Violence
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Youth Violence

When violence strikes a city – as Hartford was struck last month in a weekend of shootings that left two dead and eight wounded  – you have to ask why, and you have to ask how can we prevent this from happening again?

Especially when the violence involves young people, a city stops and ponders. One of the dead was a 16-year old Windsor High student, shot while attending a Sweet Sixteen birthday party.

It isn’t hard to find news of a shooting in Connecticut, and that’s just the violence we see. Unreported and often unremarked-upon is the violence children witness at home.

Today, we will talk to a child and adolescent psychologist from Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. She’ll tell us how violence affects the development of both children and their families. We’ll also talk with a researcher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the director of a Hartford program that works with children who’ve witnessed violence, as well as  a Department of Children and Families director of community services, who can talk about what that state organization is doing with this population.



Listener Email from Richard

There is only one fundamental reason why people hit their children. They hit children because they are small and cannot defend themselves. Anybody who claims that he hits his child in order to instill discipline and values is a liar. He would not hit that child if the child could hit him back harder.

Listener Email from Jane

Capital Comm College and CCSU are holding the first statewide forum on mindfulness in education Oct. 19th “Mindful Education: Building Inner Resilience” that addresses how educators can improve outcomes with the population you are discussing right now through exercises like yoga, breath control, etc.

Not a quick fix, but research in this field is showing remarkable outcomes teaching such things to children/young adults with traumatized histories. Cultivating calming the mind decreases frustration levels and is also useful for teachers, who become less stressed and are able to be more mindful of young children and tune in to their needs.

When a child doesn’t have strategies to decrease anxiety there is less attention available to grasp new ideas, think creatively, solve problems and make good decisions.

Listener Email from Theresa

In response to the question about what is done to prevent trauma in early childhood, the Parents As Teachers program, which is in several school districts nationwide, including in my town of Canton, provides free parent educators for birth to age 5 to help parents with their roles. Parents can ask for advice and guidance on everything, including how to have patience in the face of a difficult toddler.

My mother “spanked” my siblings and me when we were small, and I didn’t want to do that, so I learned strategies from my parent educator.

Also, towns have Youth Services Bureaus that try to offer tweens and teens healthy and safe ways to have fun and interact with their peers and adults.