On a recent unexceptional night, a five-year-old girl hears gunshots from her bedroom. She freezes. It may be the first time she has heard that sound, or maybe the second. She starts to avoid her bedroom and fear bedtime. The girl’s mother reports to the pediatrician that her daughter is throwing tantrums and can’t sleep through the night.
“The reality is that young children are profoundly psychologically affected by issues such as violence in the community and at home, housing insecurity and homelessness – especially when those issues affect their parents in particular,” says Emily Fischer, LICSW, director of Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) at Boston Children’s Primary Care at Martha Eliot.