Should Children Learn to Treat Gunshot Wounds?

Playing Controversial New Approach to Gun Violence?

On an average day, roughly 320 people are victims to gun violence in the U.S. and 46 of them are children and teens. The Doctors discuss a controversial idea to put the jobs of saving lives into the hands of children. 

There have been over 300 occurrences of school shootings in the past five years and the shooting statistics are increasing at dangerous rates. There is one company, Ujimma Medics, teaching children how to care for gunfire victims as well as how to talks with cops and paramedics. Their co-founder, Amika Tendaji, joins The Doctors on Skype. 

Watch: Mother Who Lost Son in Vegas Shooting Looks for Answers

Later, The Doctors hear from the Director of Ministry and the Former Ambassador of International Religious Freedoms, Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, who thinks this is too much for children to handle. 

OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landy says, “It’s sad that we live in a world where anybody would think that children might need that type of training… but until we learn to change that reality, I appreciate what you are trying to do.” 

Amika explains while she herself is not a medical professional, she works with those in the community like nurses and EMTs to develop and validate the curriculum. She as well as her co-founder are youth organizers and they have witnessed shootings and gun violence all their lives. She is also a mother, her kids being some of the first to be trained, and she believes children are resilient and adaptive. Knowing these skills will be useful in other types of emergencies as well.

Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra agrees, saying it’s sad this is the environment we live in and while it’s controversial to expose kids to this type of first aid, they are also, unfortunately, being exposed to the shootings. “We know in medicine that those minutes make a huge difference in saving a life.” She thinks arming kids with this basic knowledge is worthwhile.

Dr. Johnson Cook also grew up surrounded by violence and trauma in urban America and was even on the front lines of 9/11. Her concern is that we need to be cautious of emotions and the spirit that accompanies this trauma. She thinks it is important for the teachers, who are supposed to be the protectors of children, to learn these things so there can be some safe space for children who already grow up too quickly. 

Child psychiatrist Dr. Domenick Sportelli also has concerns that children who are under the age of six can’t make cognitive decisions and understand the pros and cons of a situation. Are they able to access the danger and know if it’s safe to intervene? 

Youth development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa understands the concern and highlights that if a child is going to be in this unfortunate circumstance, she thinks the real damage is feeling hopeless while a classmate or friend bleeds out. Giving them some control will build resilience and she says may even have a psychological positive impact.

The Doctors note, ideally, an adult will be there to assist a victim and these skills are taught for situations when there is no other option. Dr. Johnson Cook wants to make sure that safety is a factor that does not get dismissed. It’s important for children to be taught to intervene only when it is safe for them to do so.

Amika shares many parents have been supportive of their program and have invited them into schools and community groups to teach both the young and old these basic skills. It seems The Doctors viewers are also in favor of a program like this one. When polled, 48,000 responded and of them, 88% said yes, we should teach our kids to treat gunshot wounds in this type of scenario. 

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