2 trauma centers now open to help children who experience, witness violence

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CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Children who experience violence need the tools to help them get through it -- that's the thought behind the two neighborhood trauma centers opening in Cincinnati.

This is a pilot program that the Ohio Attorney General's Office is funding. The organizers started it after a shooting near a Cincinnati public school and students saw the body, and they knew something needed to be done to help those kids cope.

If you're from a neighborhood that sees a lot of violence, you may be traumatized by what you see. That's the basic principle behind the two trauma centers that are opening -- one in Westwood and the other in Winton Hills.

"So what happens in a child's brain when they experience trauma over and over again is it actually rewires the brain, and so without treatment, children are prone to becoming perpetrators," said consultant Vanessa Enoch.

On Tuesday night, volunteers were being trained by mental health professionals from Children's Hospital on how to help kids in particular.

"These are the basic skills of connecting with children and with teenagers," said Barbara Boat from Children's Hospital.

"It's recognizing that a child has had this trauma and knowing that through these experiences at the center, you're going to build up resilience and perseverance," said City Council member Greg Landsman.

People who live and work in those neighborhoods know that the impact on children has a far greater reach. Enoch wrote a $135,000 grant to fund the project, and agencies and volunteers citywide are partnering to help, including Cincinnati Public Schools, the PIVOT program, the Neighborhood Enhancement program, the health department and the police department.

The goal is to intervene while children's hearts can still be healed.

"It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice. So with that, how do you approach people in a way that they know that you really care about them?" said CIRV outreach worker, Stan Ross.

Enoch is in the process of writing another grant to expand the project. They're starting with sexual abuse survivors and then branching out to other children who have experienced trauma.

Teachers, police officers and other partners will be able to refer children to the centers for treatment.

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