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Parlee Center Speaker Talks Community Violence, Intervention

The Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good kicked off its fall semester speaker series on Monday, Sept. 10, with a talk by Ted Corbin, medical director of the Healing Hurt People (HHP) program.

The program is an emergency department intervention strategy that identifies victims of intentional injury in order to treat psychological as well as physical trauma and reduce the odds of re-injury after release. The event was framed around the core curriculum question of “What should matter to me?”

Corbin, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the Drexel University College of Medicine, shared the work that his organization does in the city of Philadelphia and gave Ursinus students, faculty, staff and community members a look at the impact community violence has on individuals under the age of 18.

HHP serves people ages 8-18 who enter the hospital with a gunshot or stab wound. To break the cycle of trauma and violence that can trap these youth, particularly young men of color who are at much higher risk, Corbin says, HHP addresses their physical, emotional and social needs after they are released.

According to Corbin, with more than 7,500 assaults last year in the city, many young people are feeling the impact. One client shared his reality growing up in a violent Philadelphia neighborhood. On an audio tape Corbin shared, the client said, “None of the people I knew in the sandbox are alive today. I knew I’d get shot.”

While some victims of trauma turn to drugs, others may seek out protection from future violence by obtaining illegal guns for themselves.  According to Corbin, “this creates a chronic cycle that keeps happening.”

This cycle of violence is something the HHP strives to break, seeking to lower hospital recidivism and arrests for violent crime within one year of initial contact. In addition to working directly with survivors of community violence, HHP is working with both the city and hospital staff to educate them on the impact of traumas and disparities in recovery and treatment.

One Ursinus student asked, “What can we do?”

Corbin replied, “Speaking truth is important. However you can come together to educate the public about the issue of gun violence as a public health issue. Get out there and speak up. Speak up for the people who have experienced these traumas. They may not be in a position to be heard, so speak up for them.” —By Monique Kelly