The information below is meant only as a starting place for pediatric medical home teams to begin addressing community violence. In no way are these resources exhaustive. An overall statement that can be used to start the discussion is "We have a better understanding today of the negative effects that exposure to violence has on children and adolescents, such that I now talk to all of my families about exposure to violence." For more background on using the materials below, go to the Overview.
Framing the Question
Has the child had stomach pains, headaches, and other somatic complaints that seem to have no source?
Has the child’s behavior changed dramatically, seemingly without cause (eg, difficulty sleeping, avoiding people, performance in school)?
Has anything violence-related or frightening happened in the child’s school or neighborhood since the last time you saw the child?
Actions to Take
The parents (and pediatrician) should reassure the child that she is safe and that the violence will not occur to her.
Help guide the parent to make any necessary accommodations to help child through crisis period (eg, allowing child to sleep with parent, keeping a light on at night, etc).
The practice should establish a protocol to establish when and how patients should be referred to services in the community.
If the child’s symptoms are severe or do not resolve upon follow-up, make a referral to formal treatment such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or other appropriate intervention.
Tools to Educate
Related AAP Policy
Learn more about the CEV