WASHINGTON, DC (7News) — At least 18 juveniles have been homicide victims in D.C. this year -- double the number from 2019 -- and the year is not over yet.
Children’s National Hospital has a grant from the D.C. Office of Victims Services and Justice Grants to help interrupt violence, plus prevent victims from retaliating or being victimized again. But now they are seeing even more victims of gunshot wounds and penetrating injuries.
In 2018, there were 17 patients with gunshot or other penetrating injuries. But that number grew and has now tripled to date in 2022.
“We certainly have seen more penetrating, more kids injured by gunshots than we have in previous years,” said Dr. Katie Donnelly, who treats victims of violence.
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She's the one who applied for the violence prevention grant. Now, she says they are also seeing more patients who are victims of fights at school or on the Metro.
“Bruises and scrapes, but also facial injuries. So breaking one of the facial bones like the cheek bone or the eye socket, or the jaw,” said Donnelly. “Also, if kids are trying to defend themselves, they can have fractures in their hand like the bones in their hands.”
Her goal is for the program to intervene to prevent these injuries from leading to shootings and fatalities.
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Jawanna Hardy is a community violence interrupter, and for the hospital, she works as a violence intervention specialist. Her job is to offer help and support to victims, but to also find out what is causing the violence.
“Sometimes it's something really simple. And sometimes, a lot of times, it's retaliation. I've seen so much retaliation. You kill my friend. So I want to kill yours,” Hardy explained.
She says today’s youngsters are not showing much hope for their future. And many of them are acting like they are part of a violent video game.
“And right now like killing is just a cool thing to do. Or for young kids, [what] they do social media, the music,” Hardy said. “They are not thinking about their future at all. And a lot of these kids are in shock. Like when they come in, they can't believe that they have been shot.”
Donnelly and Hardy also work with a social worker at the hospital, as part of the program. They are still measuring progress and success. But say it will take years to erase the trauma so many children have faced and endured.