High-Ranking Maryland Officials Swap Ideas for Addressing Childhood Trauma in Baltimore

August 20, 2019
In The News

Just one traumatic experience in childhood can permanently impact a child’s health and decision-making, studies show. In Baltimore, where there have been more than 1,500 homicides and 3,400 shooting victims since 2015, children experience trauma on a scale that some leaders say amounts to an “epidemic.” Some of the region’s leaders came together Tuesday to look at the most recent research and discuss what more can be done. U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings organized the forum on childhood trauma at the offices of Humanim, a nonprofit that helps people with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges…. Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s former health commissioner, moderated the event, which was attended by such Maryland officials as U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young, Baltimore Schools CEO Sonja Santelises and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, who listened to health experts and discussed ways to prevent childhood trauma and cope with it. Traumatic events such as the death or incarceration of a parent, a drug addiction or mental health issues affecting family members are considered an “adverse childhood experience,” experts explained. Just one of those experiences in childhood is associated with a heightened risk of using illicit drugs, abusing alcohol, attempting suicide, perpetrating violence and suffering from chronic diseases.