The left behinds: Witnesses to tragedy

We've talked so much about the shooting victims in Newtown, those beautiful children shot dead in their classrooms, and the teachers, too. But not a lot is written about the witnesses to these tragedies, and how they, too, are changed for life.

An article in  Sunday Review in The New York Times yesterday talked about how we ignore those who have been wounded, or have been there at the scene of carnage.

At little-noticed report, the story said, "suggested that children exposed to community violence might turn to violence themselves as 'a source of power, prestige, security, or even belongingness.'"

It said these children -- who had seen friends gunned down on porches, or in parking lots, or were the victims of a random bullet like the 15-year-old, who only days before had sung at President Obama's inauguration, struck down by a stranger's anger at another -- needed help and professional counseling.

Op-ed writer Alex Kotlowitz noted "a remarkable, albeit small, program, Healing Hurt People," in his story.  It's "a collaboration of Drexel University’s College of Medicine and School of Public Health, which scours two emergency rooms in the city for young men and teens who have been shot and pulls them in for counseling.

Kotlowitz reported that when the program’s founder, Ted Corbin, "was an emergency room doctor in Washington, D.C., he saw how shooting victims were treated and then sent back out on the streets, where, if they didn’t do injury to themselves, they’d most likely injure someone else. 'If you don’t peel back some of the layers,' Mr. Corbin told me, 'you don’t know how to stop that recycling of people.'"

There are many victims of mass shootings.  We need to think not only of those fatally wounded, but also those who witnessed the unspeakable.  Without help, they may go on to become the next serial killers.


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