Faced with surging violence in Baltimore, health officials want more doctors, nurses and others in area hospitals to engage with victims and perpetrators of crimes and steer them out of harm’s way, reports the Baltimore Sun. A campaign called “Words Not Weapons” will remind hospital workers who often come in contact with the same troubled youths to get their facilities’ social workers in involved. Professionals can connect with existing resources in the community that can help the youths get back into school, or to work or somewhere safe and learn about non-violent conflict resolution, said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner, and a former emergency room physician.
“In the ER you often see victims of violence; maybe they came in with a superficial stab wound, or they punched a wall or someone else and broke their hand,” she said. “So often providers don’t feel like they have a way to help break the cycle of violence.” Wen said the health department will hand out cards with reminders of what to ask those who repeatedly come in with wounds. On the other side will be some existing city resources, including a crisis hot line, which can point them and their patients to aid. Wen believes many youth caught up in violence want to talk about it and figure out how to break out, but “they just don’t have an outlet.” The campaign will be run out of the city health department’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention.