Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)’s Violence Intervention Program is a product of the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, along with discussions about how CHOP could respond to the growing frequency of kids becoming gunshot victims. Since 2013, CHOP has screened over 108,000 juveniles for bullying, behavioral issues, and access to firearms, and seventy-five patients and their families have received the extensive, individualized care VIP offers.
“CHOP social workers screen all juveniles who come into the emergency room to be treated for violent injuries, and refer ones who are clearly grappling with deep-rooted problems to members of the VIP team […] They carefully try to get the kids to explain their backstory. Simple questions come first—What led to you visiting the hospital today? What’s going on at home?—and then tougher ones,” writes Philadelphia Magazine’s David Gambacorta.
The goal, says VIP’s co-director, Joel Fein, is to “create situations where children grow up into healthy adults. A lot of these kids don’t see themselves as having a future much past adolescence because they’re living in an environment where they see things happening all the time, and it’s traumatizing them to a point where they’re not necessarily seeing their future. But we know they do have a future, and we want to make sure that future is a kind of healthy, happy one just like anyone else would want.”