ER doctor targets youth violence with unique program

A Winnipeg emergency room doctor says the level of youth violence in the city is staggering and she wants to try and end it.
The Emergency Department Violence Intervention Program, a two-year pilot at the Health Sciences Centre, will aim to help youth get out of their cycle of violence. (avivacommunityfund.org)

A Winnipeg emergency room doctor says the level of youth violence in the city is staggering and she wants to try and end it.

Carolyn Snider has started a pilot program at the Health Sciences Centre, called the Emergency Department Violence Intervention Program, which will have support workers on staff to help youth who come in.

More than 1,000 young people a year come into the ER suffering injuries from violence, she said.

"We're seeing so many young people injured and not knowing how we could help them not get injured again. When we went in and found out that 20 per cent of them were coming back with another injury due to violence it became clear the magnitude of the problem," said Snider, who is also a researcher at the Manitoba Institute of Child Health.

"These injuries can be anywhere from being beaten up or right to being stabbed or shot. But the physical injury is only a small part of it. Their problems are much more complex than that."

Support workers will help the youth with everything from housing and education to culture in an attempt to break the cycle of violence.

The first meeting is in the emergency room, establishing a relationship with the youth, Snider said.

The support worker will do a follow-up meeting the next day and begin working with the youth on things like going back to school, getting job training, and addressing family issues.

The pilot program is funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research and will last two years.

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