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Guns, Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, Trauma and Murder
Dr. Kathryn Seifert, Trauma and Violence Expert Dr. Kathryn Seifert, Trauma and Violence Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Baltimore, MD
Sunday, August 30, 2015


Today's debate is whether we can reduce the massive rates of gun violence in the US by reducing access to guns to those with mental illness and/or increasing access to treatment.  The answer is it is both plus increasing access to treatment for substance abuse and severe trauma (Behavior Health).  Behavior Health includes both mental health and substance abuse. The combination of active, untreated severe mental illness combined with substance abuse increases the risk of violent behaviors by 7 fold.

When access to guns, untreated behavioral health (mental illness and substance abuse) and unhealed trauma come together the outcome is often antisocial.  The more severe the mental illness, substance abuse, and trauma, and the younger the age that the trauma occurred, the more likely the outcome is to be violent.  Add the lack of treatment, support and healing, the risk of violence goes even higher.  So the solution will be as complex as the problem.  Restricting access to guns is only a partial solution, as is treatment for mental health.

The ACE’s study determined that childhood trauma is associated with many negative adult outcomes including mental illness, substance abuse, severe physical illness, and social problems.  Other studies have demonstrated that it is also associated with teen and adult antisocial behavior and violence. 

Three million children per year suffer from child abuse and neglect in the US.  Substance abuse and mental illness combined with histories of trauma among parents is the foundation of parental abuse of their children and domestic violence.  It has often been in the family history for generations.   Many abused children grow up to abuse others within and outside the family.

“Crossover kids” are children that move from the child protective services system straight into the juvenile services system.  These children learn to be violent and antisocial by living in violent and antisocial families.  There are many trauma, mental health, and substance abuse problems in these families.  One agency should provide multiple services to the families in the Child Protective Services system.   Juvenile Services systems should treat families, not individual youth.

What to do:

1. Expand access to Behavioral Health treatment (Mental Health and Substance Abuse)
2. Combine Departments of Child Protective Services, Behavioral Health and Juvenile Services for services to families of youth in those systems.
3. Provide trauma and behavioral health treatment for every child exposed to domestic violence, and/or child abuse and neglect.
4. Restrict access to guns for everyone with a history of multiple acts of violence whether to a stranger or family member who also has active moderate to severe behavioral health problems without treatment


Source: fotolia_56055065_S_edited

School based behavioral health services in all schools

Dr. Kathryn Seifert is a leading voice internationally in the areas of violence, mental health, criminal justice and addictions. The CEO of Eastern Shore Psychological Services (ESPS), Dr. Seifert specializes in the assessment and treatment of individuals who are at risk for violence and/or suffering from attachment disorders. 

She has frequently appeared on national networks to discuss violence and mental health, appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN, the Huffington Post Live, Discovery ID, Fox News, and CBC in Canada. Dr. Seifert has written two books on the subject; the first, How Children Become (Acanthus Publishing 2006), was awarded the 2007 IPPY (Independent Book Publishers Award) bronze medal in the Psychology/Mental Health Category, and her second book, Youth Violence: Theory, Prevention, and Intervention (Springer Publishing 2011), is frequently utilized in the professional community and in courses and training sessions. 

As an expert contributor for Psychology Today, Dr. Seifert's blog, "Stop the Cycle," has amassed over 150,000 views in the last two years. 

Dr. Seifert has lectured in Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, and across the United States. Past conferences and events include Maryland Psychological Association Annual Conference, Pennsylvania's NAMI Cherry Blossom Charity Ball, and the Conference on the Federal Response to Reducing Gun Violence, which took place following the Sandy Hook tragedy and was headlined by Vice President Joe Biden. 

She is currently finalizing her upcoming book, Failure to Attach: The Why Behind Terrorists and Mass Murderers, which will be published later this year.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Kathryn Seifert
Title: Founder
Group: ESPS & CARE2
Dateline: Salisbury, MD United States
Direct Phone: 443-754-1001
Main Phone: 4437541001
Cell Phone: 4437541001
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