Community Violence and Trauma

Community violence is a critical public health problem in the U.S. Common types of community violence include individual and group conflicts (e.g., bullying, fights among gangs and other groups, shootings in public areas such as schools and communities, civil wars in foreign countries or “war-like” conditions in U.S. cities, spontaneous or terrorist attacks).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), community violence is a leading cause of death and nonfatal injuries among adolescents and young adults (ages 10-34), and disproportionately impacts those in communities of color. Additionally, systemic racism, bias, discrimination; economic instability; concentrated poverty; and limited housing, education, and healthcare access, all of which disproportionately impact FQHC and safety-net populations, drive health inequities, including community violence.

Community violence can cause significant physical injuries and mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), and is associated with increased risk of developing chronic diseases.

Through Weitzman’s engagement with FQHC providers and patients across the country, we recognize that community violence also leaves a lasting legacy of trauma, and that we have the opportunity to provide thought leadership and comprehensive policy recommendations (e.g., efforts to expand trauma-informed care, promote positive childhood experiences) regarding the role of FQHCs and other safety-net primary care health systems to both prevent community violence, and also mitigate the short- and long-term negative health and social impacts of community violence.