Hospitals stepping up in response to rising gun violence against children

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ST. LOUIS, MO - The weekend shooting death of 7-year-old boy will not pass without people taking action. St. Louis hospitals have joined together for a new program that begins later this summer. Its aim is to stop victims of violence from repeatedly being harmed.

It was quiet Monday afternoon in the 3100 block of California. Much different than the overwhelming sadness felt by folks Saturday when police said 7-year-old Jermon Perry was shot and killed.

Marvionna West says, “Our kids can’t make it barely to age of 10. They’re passing away left and right. They are future. So, they’re killing our future.”

Courtney Williams added, “There’s no reason a child should be able to get a gun.”

Police say Jermon and his two brothers were upstairs in their home and their parents were downstairs. One brother, they said, went to look for candy but found a gun and shot Jermon in the head. He later died at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hosptial.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police say that both the homicide and child abuse divisions are handling the investigation.

Dr. John Peter, an emergency room physician, says, “It’s profoundly affecting. So often when you look at these children you see your own child there.”

In only five years, victims of gun violence arriving at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital’s emergency room have soared from 27 cases to 61 children shot last year.

“It was very rare when I was in training to see gun violence and children and now it’s become fairly common,” says Dr. Peter.

Later this month, Cardinal Glennon along with Women’s Voices Raised and others will come together to give away free gun locks as well as provide gun safety education.

Marvionna West said, “Hopefully everybody that has a gun will get on. Maybe the numbers will go down.”

In July, a new initiative shared by the four city hospitals that have Level I Trauma Centers will begin a program called “Life Outside of Violence.”  They hope their efforts will break the cycle of violence in St. Louis neighborhoods.

Hospitals like Cardinal Glennon offer counseling for their workers to cope when they experience traumatic events like the shooting death of a child.

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