In April 2017 the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School and the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital, hosted “Healing in the Wake of Community Violence: Lessons from Newtown and Beyond,” with support from William James College and the Science, Religion, and Culture Program at Harvard Divinity School. This film screening and panel discussion addressed challenges that arise from tragic acts of community violence with an intentional focus on the issue of secondary trauma in the community impacted by a mass tragedy like the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012. After a screening of the documentary Newtown, a panel including the film’s director Kim Snyder and experts in health law and policy, the neurobiology of trauma, and community approaches to violence discussed the complex issues of public health, gun violence, and responses to community trauma. Discussion highlighted the issue of secondary trauma, particularly among the many “helpers” who support victims and communities after mass casualty events, and what more we can and should do to support these helpers and the larger community.
This series includes posts from several of the panelists who participated in the discussion of “Healing in the Wake of Community Violence.”