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Credit: Mira Shetty

A Penn professor wrote an op-ed denouncing gun violence and calling it an epidemic that leads to long-term psychological repercussions for everyone involved. 

Steven Berkowitz, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and the director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery, wrote an article in STAT News last week about the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

“Not just convicting the perpetrator, but a lasting societal response to the episode. The lack of a response from our society is justice denied, which perpetuates the traumatic response and impairs the ability to heal,” he wrote in the article. 

Steven Berkowitz

At Penn, Berkowitz focuses on childhood trauma and early intervention. In his op-ed, he argues that the consequences of gun violence have their roots in public health and trauma, and require more in-depth treatment. 

Berkowitz argued in his op-ed that the only way that trauma can be stopped from spreading is by implementing stronger laws on the event’s “vectors,” or causes of gun violence — guns and bullets.

“That’s something we must do to provide a sense of justice and an opportunity for healing for all of the victims of mass shootings,” Berkowitz said. 

Berkowitz is also currently working on integrating a secondary prevention intervention called the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention into several agencies in Philadelphia, and helped to establish the nationally recognized Child Development-Community Policing Program, according to Penn’s Psychiatry department website. 

Social Policy and Health and Societies professor Susan Sorenson teaches an entire course on gun violence from the public health perspective. Sorenson combined her two popular courses “Guns & Health” and “Violence in Relationships” in 2016 to create a well-rounded syllabus that “generates knowledge that can guide policy and educate future generations in effective citizenship,” according to a spotlight on Penn’s website

Other research at Penn has called gun violence a contained effect. Criminology professor Charles Loeffler conducted a study in Oct. 2017 that found that gun violence might not lead to further acts of violence, when researching the prevalence of gun-related crimes in Washington, D.C. 

Students have also begun to speak out against gun violence, advocating for common-sense gun reform in the United States. 

Dozens of students, faculty, and staff protested gun violence on campus on Feb. 22

On Feb. 20, Penn Students Stand Against Gun Violence wrote in The Daily Pennsylvanian and urged their peers to join them in promoting legislative reform on gun control, recognizing that “visibility and conversation alone won’t change the status quo.”