Teens ‘scared straight’ in ER as deterrent to gun violence
Showing at-risk teens in Philadelphia the gruesome, devastating reality of gun violence is the focus of Temple University Hospital’s Cradle to Grave program.
Medical staff bring teens into the hospital’s emergency trauma bays and take a “scared straight” approach in showing them the aftermath of fatal gunshot injuries.
The two-hour experience focuses on how trauma staff attempted to save the life of 16-year-old Lamont Adams, who was shot more than a dozen times on the night of Sept. 23, 2004, near the north Philadelphia residence he shared with his grandmother.
He was taken to Temple University Hospital, where he died later that night.
Temple University Hospital established Cradle to Grave in 2006 as one of the nation’s few hospital-based violence- prevention programs.
It is getting attention from other cities with gun violence.
Scott Charles, Temple University Hospital’s trauma outreach and prevention coordinator and the Cradle to Grave co-founder, will discuss the program’s origin and its effectiveness with people in Erie this week.
“We need to get back to some of the scared straight programs, because nothing else is working in our community,” said Sonya Arrington, who founded Mothers Against Teen Violence in the spring of 2010, two months after her son, Stephen Arrington II, was shot to death outside an Erie convenience store.
“Philadelphia obviously is far worse in crime and gun violence than Erie, but if it is putting a dent into what’s going on in Philly, hey, it just might work here,” Arrington said. “Our community is in crisis, and whatever we can do to try to slow the violence down here, we might as well take a chance on it. We have nothing to lose. We’re already losing the war on gun violence.”
In Philadelphia, Cradle to Grave participants experience Adams’ life from his birth to the events leading to his shooting death.
Trauma staff re-create and simulate in graphic detail all the procedures they conducted in an effort to save his life.
“By showing them all the graphic details and keeping it real with them, that might change the mindset of some of these young men or young women who are out here playing with guns,” Arrington said.
Aside from the physical effects of gun violence, Cradle to Grave aims to show the emotional and psychological impacts.