June 2, 2011 — Staff in the Emergency Department (ED) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia kicked off a Pledge Against Violence campaign today, asking families in the hospital’s emergency department to take action against violence by speaking up. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the widespread impact of domestic and community violence.
Parents and older patients will be asked to sign a pledge form during their ED visit. Participating families will receive a pocket card with the Philadelphia Domestic Violence 24-hour hotline as well as information about local non-profit domestic violence organizations. Patients 12 years and older will receive Children’s Hospital bracelets printed with the Philadelphia Domestic Violence hotline. Younger children will trace and decorate paper hands to hang as part of a collage on the ED wall.
Violence has long-term effects on children
“As a Level 1 pediatric trauma center in urban Philadelphia, we are no strangers to violence and effect on our patients and the secondary trauma experienced by our staff,” said Joel Fein, MD, MPH, an ED physician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and director of the Philadelphia Collaborative Violence Prevention Center. “The Pledge Against Violence campaign recognizes that unhealthy relationships at home not only destroy families, but compromise the health of our entire city.”
In the past year, 15.5 million U.S. children lived in families in which partner violence occurred at least once, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred. Philadelphia Police Department responded to more than 137,900 domestic abuse incidents in 2009. Children who experience childhood trauma, including witnessing incidents of domestic violence, are at greater risk of serious health problems as adults, including smoking, substance abuse, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression and higher rates of unintended pregnancy.
Pledge empowers victims of violence, educates caregivers
The CHOP Pledge Against Violence will allow all patients who are discharged from the CHOP Emergency Department the opportunity to personally pledge to “stand up” against violence in their homes and their neighborhoods. Each of these individuals is offered the opportunity to learn about the effects of violence on individuals and the community at large by being presented with a safe and comfortable forum for questions.
“The Pledge Again Violence campaign will also help educate the medical community about the widespread impact violence has on children,” said Colleen McFadden, a registered nurse in the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department who has helped to organize the CHOP campaign.
Program modeled after anti-violence program for women
The program is adapted from Women Against Abuse iPledge Campaign, a citywide anti-violence movement. Women Against Abuse, Inc. (WAA) is one of the country’s leading domestic violence advocates, founded in Philadelphia in 1976. WAA serves more than 12,000 individuals each year through emergency residential services, legal aid, hotline counseling, community education, and advocacy.
About Lutheran Settlement House and its support of violence victims at CHOP
Lutheran Settlement House (LSH) is a non-profit, community-based social service organization that serves more than 14,000 men, women and children each year through four program areas: Adult Education and Employment, Domestic Violence, Senior Services, and Homeless Services. The core mission of LSH is “to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through an integrated program of social, education and advocacy services.” The Lutheran Settlement House provides support for domestic violence cases on-site in Children’s Hospital.