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Children traumatized by violence [Letter]

I read with interest recent articles about gun violence ("After the gunfire, shoppers and workers confront emotional toll," Feb. 1).

As our service men and woman return from war, we have documented psychological trauma-related injuries, specifically post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, mood swings, aggressive behaviors, rages and suicides.

Children and families living day in and day out in communities with high crime rates are witnessing or being victimized by the physical and psychological traumas of their neighborhoods, which include gunshot injuries, death, bullying, assaults, threats, rape, robberies armed and non-armed, and forced membership in gangs.

Since observing the effects of violence on Dutch children in the aftermath of World War II, social scientists and medical personal continue to find community violence exposure damaging whether the victim be a shooting victim, or a 5-year-old who constantly sees violence in her neighborhood.

Post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, aggression, extreme behaviors and even suicide become a reality for the individual, family and community. Most of these conditions help develop a cycle of violence as many of our child victims become perpetrators of violence in reaction.

Our children did not have to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. They can develop these disorders in the street in front of their house, playing in the local park or walking to and from school. It happens every day. Even without death or guns, community violence still causes significant harm to our children.

To create change, to break the cycle of violence we cannot afford to wait and take action after the trigger is pulled. Early therapeutic interventions with individuals, families and communities are needed right now.

Jonathan K. Reidy, Towson

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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