As a pediatrician dedicated to child health, you know how difficult it can be to treat children who have been exposed to or victimized by violence. You know that these children are typically at higher risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes. You also know that the best time to intervene in these situations is as early as possible.
A grant from the Department of Justice aims to help pediatricians deal more effectively with children and adolescents exposed to violence. The grant has helped launch an AAP Web page.
The new webpage provides pediatricians and medical home teams easy access to the resources they need, resources that will enable them to modify their practice to identify, treat, and refer children and adolescents who have been exposed to or victimized by violence. The webpage includes research and data on childhood violence and its impact on children. It offers sample questions and videos that help families deal with violence. And it includes resources for parents.
A long supporter of medical homes, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that "care therein should be accessible, culturally competent, family-centered and well-coordinated." Medical homes provide children and their families a stable relationship with a pediatrician and medical home team, a relationship that serves to steer them toward a healthy and productive future. Children and adolescents who have suffered violence urgently need the kind of stable relationships these medical homes provide. In many instances, such homes are the “island of safety and comfort” in an otherwise chaotic environment. Once under the umbrella of a medical home, pediatricians can identify the root causes and conditions of childhood violence. At this point, the healing process can begin.
The Illinois chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics noted in a National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence that 60 percent of the children surveyed had been directly or indirectly exposed to violence. They described the project Building up the Medical Home for Kids Exposed to Violence, as a collaboration between the AAP and the Office of Victims of Crime (OVIC). The goals are summarized as follows:
- Identify children exposed to or victimized by violence
- Provide children and families the resources to stay safe
- Provide support and treatment for violence-related issues
- Lay out plans for a secure, healthy and hopeful future
If you’re interested in getting more information about this important topic, register for the webinar: ”Keep It Real: How One Pediatrician Makes Medical Home Work for Children Exposed to Violence,” which is scheduled for November 30, 2012. Nadine Burke Harris, MD, MPH, FAAP, having treated many children exposed to violence, has developed ways to incorporate questions related to adverse childhood events. She has uncovered techniques to begin the difficult conversations of childhood violence and is dedicated to ensuring that these children and their families get the care they need.
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