Secret Charles-Ford, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership for Change
Drive-by shooting incidents are a part of the broader discussion and policy deliberations that regard community gun violence. Non-gang-related drive-by shootings are not well researched, but news and media accounts and law enforcement reports suggest that non-gang related drive-by shootings constitute a major proportion of the drive-by shootings to which law enforcement respond. Children and adolescents in the United States and worldwide are among those commonly exposed to traumatic events, yet practitioners treating these young people to reduce subsequent psychological harm may not be aware of or use interventions based on the best available evidence (Wethingten et al., 2008). Given the magnitude and urgency of this issue, communities always are admonished, and admonish themselves, to mobilize and collaborate to address the issue of gun violence.
Although numerous studies exist that articulate the effect of traumatic events on children and adolescents, very few studies concentrate on the families, including the adults, of the victims/survivors of drive-by shootings to help them process through grief and successful recovery.
This qualitative study addresses the research question, “How are multiple-agency collaborations used to improve post-incident trauma-informed care for survivors, individuals, families, and communities victimized by gun violence, especially drive-by shootings, in a metropolitan area?” Semi-structured interviews were conducted with one or more representatives from three separate agencies that work with trauma associated with both fatal and non-fatal gun violence. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with three adult family members of drive-by shooting victims/survivors. A fictional story based on real events offers insight into the nature of post-incident trauma-informed care among victims and their family members.
After careful analysis the data revealed that more work needs to be done to serve low-income and minority populations. Law enforcement, currently the primary community resource in addressing drive-by shooting incidents, and other community service groups only marginally help with both prevention and postvention services for victims/survivors of violence. Bringing attention to the personal trauma suffered as the result of drive-by shootings may inspire improved future changes in trauma-informed services. Such social change is a slow process, but creating hope for our children and communities is seen as important by all interviewees. Hopefully this work will have inspired increased collaboration to better serve drive-by shooting victims/survivors and their families with post-incident trauma-informed care.
Key Words: post-incident trauma-informed care, recovery and healing, agency collaborations, drive-by shootings, gun violence, mental health and trauma, fear of law enforcement, fictional therapeutic writing