Boston anticrime officials are turning their attention to hospital emergency rooms, where they hope to interrupt cycles of violence by offering counseling, drug treatment, and other help to victims of gunshot wounds and stabbings, says the Boston Globe. Health officials say victims of such violence are more likely to have substance abuse problems and mental health issues and are nearly 50 percent more likely to get hurt again because of violence than are those who have never been hurt.
The Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Medical Center are assigning community workers to evaluate victims and refer them to social services and treatment programs. In some cases, the patients could receive home visits from counselors or other social workers. ”Sometimes victims seek revenge against the perpetrator, or they’re so afraid, they carry a weapon themselves,” said Nancy Norman of the Boston Public Health Commission. ”We must stop this cycle of violence, and hopefully, this intervention will help to do that.” The program, funded by a $50,000 city grant, will train hospital staff on counseling victims of violence and help develop a system that can be shared with other emergency rooms across the city. The hospital intervention plan is the latest to be tried as Boston combats a crime wave that saw homicides grow to a 10-year high last year and nonfatal shootings in the first three months of 2006 nearly doubling to 79, from 43 during the same period last year.