CLEVELAND — A Northeast Ohio hospital is working to end the cycle of violence children face in their communities.

What You Need To Know

  • The Antifragility Initiative aims to break the cycle of violence in Cleveland

  • The initiative connects child victims to mentors and resources after they've been discharged

  • The program helps children ages 6-15 who have experienced severe trauma

The Antifragility Initiative was created to help children who wind up at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital after suffering a traumatic injury.

"In our first year, we served about 89 patients. In the last quarter, we served over 100 patients and their families with our services," said Dr. Edward M. Barksdale Jr., who is the surgeon-in-chief at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.

Barksdale said he too often sees children come to the hospital with gunshot wounds.

"And in fact, when I look at these children, sometimes I wonder if they really are children because we have not protected their environment."

Barksdale knew something had to be done to try to end the cycle of violence for youth in Cleveland. He is a key part of getting the Antifragility Initiative off the ground.

"Our program is a hospital-based, holistic, violence intervention program that is designed for children ages 6-15 who have been the victims of severe interpersonal violence that is not child maltreatment or what the public knows as child abuse."

Once a child is brought to the hospital with a traumatic injury such as a gunshot wound or stab wound, they are stabilized and then a representative with the Antifragility Initiative meets with the child and their family. Barksdale said they meet within the golden hour which is the first 24 to 48 hours the child is in their care.

"A period in which, particularly for teenage boys, they are vulnerable and the bravado that they can protect themselves they don't need anyone is erased by their fear for their own morbidity their own life or death issues."

But the care doesn't stop there. Once the child is discharged, the Antifragility Initiative helps connect the child to mentors and services to help them cope and prevent them from becoming repeat victims. Barksdale said community support is needed to help keep kids safe.

"For me, the most important things that we as a community need to do is to get structure back into our urban communities. We need to ensure that our schools have the resources. Our teachers and the schools have the resources. That our community centers are open at times that will allow children not to, if you will, hangout."

Barksdale said he hopes to help prepare the children for a better future.

"Our goal is to put them together to make them stronger and to help them be stronger in those broken places so that they can contribute to this community in a way that their potential allows them."