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Philadelphia has a gun violence epidemic. What if it were treated like any other contagious disease? []


Robert Warner and his crew don’t have medical degrees. But in the midst of Philadelphia’s gun violence epidemic, they are in the business of saving lives.

Day or night, Warner and his outreach workers are on North Philly streets mediating disputes, organizing basketball games between youth factions, dissuading folks from violence, and helping young people find jobs.

When someone gets shot, they’re in the hospital, helping the victim’s family, and on the street, preventing retaliation.

“I actually do think violence is a public health problem,” said Warner, director of Cure Violence, a global public health program for fighting street violence, with an operation run out of Temple University’s medical school. “Most of the time, the victims and the perpetrators don’t understand they’ve been traumatized — either seeing someone get shot or shooting someone. We have to educate the community more.”

Philadelphia is one of the deadliest cities in America. Last year, the city had 353 homicides, the most in more than a decade. So far this year, there have been 325 — up 6% from this time last year. Recent events are amplifying calls for action. In the last month alone, 12 children here have been shot, ranging in age from 10 months to 16 years. The most recent was a 16-year-old girl shot in the left shoulder late Saturday afternoon as she got off a SEPTA bus in North Philadelphia.

To read the full article by Rita Giordano and Bethany Ao, click here.

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