The intersecting crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and gun violence have devastated communities across Chicago, creating national headlines while challenging civic leaders to find solutions to save lives. Leading UChicago experts say that confronting the very human toll of gun violence on survivors, families and neighborhoods—and addressing community trauma as a legitimate public health issue—is essential.
On Oct. 20, the UChicago Urban Network hosted a panel exploring the root causes of violence and the trauma-informed, community-based solutions necessary to make meaningful change. The experts included Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action; Selwyn Rogers, founding director of UChicago Medicine’s Trauma Center; Franklin Cosey-Gay, executive director of the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention; and Pastor Brenda Mitchell, a local gun violence prevention advocate.
“That combination of epidemics has really placed a significant toll on communities of color,” Rogers said. “It reflects the fragile nature of both our health care system and our social network system that, in the midst of the pandemic, things have actually gotten much worse and exacerbated by COVID-19.”
Rogers, a professor of surgery, noted that the sensationalized conversation around violence in Chicago neglects to address the deeper impact of violence on survivors, families and communities and the lifetime of trauma that can be incurred by survivors and those connected to victims and survivors.