Is Therapy The Answer To Inner-City Violence?

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America’s inner-cities have always been far more violent than the more rural parts of the nation. Over more recent decades, though, violence has seemingly become a way of life in these communities.

While much of the United States is actually peaceful and safe, a handful of neighborhoods in our major cities have kept our nation’s homicide rate extraordinarily high.

Plenty of people have offered up thoughts on how to deal with this issue. Unfortunately, many of those seem to believe gun control is the answer.

It’s not.

However, a therapist in Philadelphia is trying something a little different.

Philadelphia’s murder rate is on pace to set a record for the second year in a row.

The city is a fraction of the size of New York, yet it has 18% more homicides.

All of that violence takes a toll not only on victims but their families and communities as well, experts say, particularly young people and particularly in communities of color.

Research indicates that a number of therapies are effective at healing communities, according to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, even though there are barriers such as access and stigma.

While there are free therapy services in Philadelphia and elsewhere designed to address the impact of gun violence on youth and communities, one licensed therapist born and raised in West Philadelphia has started using her trade to try to help heal the psychological wounds that gunfire continues to inflict on the youth of her hometown and break the cycle of violence.

Akea Williams started a program called “Therapy over Revenge” in July 2021, hoping to help stop the cycle of violence by offering free therapy sessions to kids who have experienced or seen gun violence in Philadelphia or to people with a family member who has been shot within the past few months.

The hope is that by getting these kids in therapy, it stops a cycle of violence.

Now, I’m not so sure that’s going to do a whole lot of good, but I’m also willing to applaud anyone who is willing to put it out there and try to make a difference without infringing on our right to keep and bear arms. If therapy can prevent people who witness violence from becoming violent themselves, then more power to them.

I’m just not sold on the idea that all or most of these murders are being committed by people who are traumatized by violence.

But I suppose it’s possible, and I have little doubt that at least some of the homicides are committed by people who have that kind of trauma in their life. Curbing that trauma may well pay off long-term, preventing homicides years and years down the road.

If so, Williams is doing God’s work and will likely never realize what kind of an impact she has.

And let’s also be clear, even if she accomplishes next to nothing with this, she’s at least putting forth a good-faith attempt at solving the problem, rather than just blaming everyone else for not doing something. That’s got to count for something.