PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Children are in crisis. That’s the strong warning from doctors about children’s mental health in America. Gun violence in Philadelphia, like Monday night’s shooting on the Ben Franklin Parkway, is taking an emotional toll on kids.
In the middle of chaos on the Parkway, children were among the thousands running and ducking for cover.
“How heartbreaking is it on the 246th birthday of our country that in two major cities, including the city of our nation’s birth, that there’s a shooting,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick is reacting to the shootings in Highland Park, Illinois, where seven people were killed during a July 4 parade. Bicycles and baby strollers were left behind as families ran for their lives. And on the Parkway in Philly, baby strollers were also abandoned.
Two celebrations were abrupted by gun violence.
“Children and youth are in a mental and behavioral health crisis,” Dr. Joseph St. Geme said.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says children are experiencing mental health stress at higher rates than ever before — one in every five kids has a mental health experience each year and 50% of mental illness begins before age 14.
Doctors say children should have limited access to violent stories on TV and social media and parents need to speak with kids exposed to violence.
“Talk to them how as a family and as a system we will keep them safe,” Dr. Tami Benton said.
Fitzpatrick met with doctors in Doylestown on Tuesday. He’s co-sponsoring legislation to address children’s mental health.
The Congressmember says the bill will provide more funding for pediatric hospitals to increase services and help destigmatize mental health.
“With our health insurers, if they’re covering physical health, they ought to cover mental health,” Fitzpatrick said. “In our schools, if there’s a Phys Ed program, there ought to be a mental health education program.”
The Congressmember believes there is a good chance the bill will get passed.
Meanwhile, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides services for traumatized children, their families and their communities. Click here for more information.
And more information on CHOP’s Violence Prevention Initiative can be found here.
The city says anyone who was at the Parkway and left behind personal belongings can email firstname.lastname@example.org to reclaim them.
For a list of gun violence resources in Philadelphia, click here.