Stoneleigh Fellow Dr. Ted Corbin's Fellowship Mentioned in the New York Times

In Philadelphia, there’s a remarkable, albeit small, program, Healing Hurt People, 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. 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.”

As Dr. Corbin and his colleagues began to work with shooting victims in Philadelphia, they saw clear symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. I visited the program last summer and met one young man who had night terrors so real that his girlfriend feared for her safety. Another young man told me that whenever he passes the spot where he was shot, he thinks he sees himself on the ground writhing in pain, and he approaches the specter to assure himself that he’ll be O.K. Another who was shot and paralyzed in an argument over a pair of sunglasses said that whenever he thinks about revenge or gets angry, which is often, he has incapacitating phantom pains in his legs. Two of the young men I spoke to had attempted suicide. Virtually all spoke of feeling alone, of not trusting anyone. And all admitted to drinking or smoking marijuana to keep the memories at bay, though, as they often discovered, the effect could be just the opposite.

Dr. Corbin told me that the young men he and his colleagues encounter hesitate to share their experiences because they fear they’ll be blamed. He also told me of a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the hand in a case of mistaken identity. At school, no adult asked what had happened to him, and he didn’t want to tell any of his teachers because he felt ashamed. He felt that they’d think he’d done something to deserve it. “We try to let them know they’re not crazy for feeling these things,” Dr. Corbin told me.

The violence also profoundly affects those working on the front lines, like Harper’s social workers. Not long ago, Anita Stewart told me that she has a recurring dream about Shakaki, the young girl who was murdered last June, in which she grapples with how to tell Shakaki that she’s been killed. After Ms. Stewart told me about this dream, she said, more to herself than to me, “No, you need to accept it, she’s dead.”

As Tim O’Brien says, it gets in your bones. In the wake of Hadiya Pendleton’s shooting, we’ve talked about stiffer gun control laws, about better policing, about providing mentoring and after-school programs, all of which are essential. But missing from this conversation is any acknowledgment that the violence eats away at one’s soul — whether you’re a direct victim, a witness or, like Anita Stewart, simply a friend of the deceased. Most suffer silently. By themselves. Somewhere along the way, we need to focus on those left behind in our cities whose very character and sense of future have been altered by what they’ve experienced on the streets.

(Source: The New York Times)