New Orleans children are traumatized by violence

Children in every U.S. city are adversely affected by exposure to violence, but New Orleans’ children are disproportionately impacted. They live in one of the most violent U.S. cities; children of middle-school age also suffered through Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac. They are predisposed to stress.

About half of the clients who receive mental health counseling from Family Service of Greater New Orleans are under 18 years of age. Public school social workers and teachers, as well as administrators of the juvenile justice system, refer children to us who have exhibited symptoms of stress or other challenging behavior. Our child and adolescent response teams, which provide crisis counseling and intervention to traumatized school children and their families, had to be reduced this past year due to significant cuts in state funding.

Children are not only exposed to violence on the streets. Many of the children who come to our agency experience domestic violence right in their own homes. Untreated, these kids start to model the violent behavior they witness and many, in time, become perpetrators of violence themselves.

We are hopeful that the mayor’s efforts with the leadership of the city health commissioner, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, will improve the mental health safety net for adolescents through increased community-based mental health services, as well as short-term inpatient treatment, that is available to all in need.

Ronald P. McClain
President & CEO
Family Service of Greater New Orleans
New Orleans