NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Gun violence is the leading cause of death among children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) has launched a new program in response to the trauma children face after experiencing a violent crime.

To date, 105 children have been treated for gunshot wounds at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk since 2019. Statistics show a child who experiences gun violence is more likely to continue the cycle. That’s where the program Safer Futures comes in.

“These things are happening more and more. It’s not just limited to adults getting hurt. Children are getting hurt,” said Kamron Blue, a social worker at CHKD and director of Safer Futures, “It’s sort of like a ripple effect. One person might be the victim, but potentially there could be hundreds of other people that are affected from that same incident.”

Safer Futures provides trauma counseling and treatment to children exposed to violence.

“Seeing the blood and the damage that the bullets have caused; it affects each child differently. Crying, anger, acting out, temper tantrums. Changes in sleeping patterns, eating patterns, the avoidance of people, places or things that remind them of something scary to them,” Blue explained.

Blue treats gunshot victims as young as four months old.

“One person getting shot is too many. But then when you add on an innocent child who was just inside and gunfire erupted outside, that does make it worse,” Blue told 10 On Your Side.

As he helps children work through their trauma, he also works with families to break the cycle of violence, reduce reinjury rates and strengthen communities.

“I think they all in a way stick with me. I think I’m privileged and it’s an honor to be able to stand beside these families on the worst day of their lives. It’s unfortunate that this type of program is even needed but I’m glad that CHKD has taken, being a part of a solution to be with these families on their worst days and help them rebuild and get them back to some sense of normalcy,” Blue said.

In 2019, CHKD treated 21 children with gunshot wounds. In 2020, 37 children were treated for gunshot wounds. In 2021, 34 children and in 2022, 13 children have been treated so far.

Blue told 10 On Your Side he’s dedicated his life to helping children experiencing trauma, often keeping his two young nieces in mind.

“I just can’t even imagine something like this happening to one of them. It would be devastating. I just couldn’t imagine losing them to something senseless like gun violence. It’s time for some real change in our community,” Blue concluded.

The ultimate goal, Blue stressed, is to no longer need such a program.

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