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How does gun violence impact young children?

“Typically kids that are victims or they have family members that are victims they have a really hard time just coping with everyday life,” said Dr. Eraina Schauss.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The psychological impact on children when it comes to gun violence can take its toll. Often the scars not seen can last the longest.

Kelby Shorty’s life was cut short. At 7-years-old is was tragically shot and killed while watching fireworks on the Fourth of July this year.

The number of child gunshot victims in Memphis is climbing.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital reported that five other child patients died this year after getting shot. 

“Typically kids that are victims or they have family members that are victims they have a really hard time just coping with everyday life,” said Dr. Eraina Schauss, the founder of the BRAIN Center at the University of Memphis.  

Dr. Schauss is working with Le Bonheur in a partnership allowing any patient or family member receiving services at Trauma Center or emergency department at Le Bonheur free mental health counseling.  

“Our collaboration is really tied to meeting the physical well-being needs of children at Le Bonheur also the importance of meeting their emotional, behavioral needs as well,” said Schauss.  

Le Bonheur saw 89 patients with gunshot wounds in 2019, 134 in 2020 and 76 so far in 2021. 

Dr. Schauss said children impacted by gun violence often deal with an enormous amount of stress, anxiety and symptoms of PTSD. The center takes a family centered approach teaching parents how they can support their child. 

“So a lot of it is education, this is some of the things you may see in your child and here’s some red flags,” Schauss.  

The BRAIN Center has helped over 700 patients since it opened. 

Schauss said correcting the harmful effects of violence is a community effort. 

“All of the long-term outcomes are impacted. Their well-being, their educational achievement, their ability to be resilient and mentally fit is all impacted by our community and our community violence."