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Program at St. Louis Children's Hospital tries to keep kids from returning

The St. Louis Children's Hospital's logo, which replaces the 'n' in 'Children's' with an image of the Gateway Arch, is printed all over the hospital campus, including the entrance off Kingshighway Boulevard. Spokeswoman Abby Wuellner said the logo represe
File photo|Nassim Benchaabane | St. Louis Public Radio
A program at St. Louis Children's Hospital is trying to keep children from becoming repeat victims of violence.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital is working to help kids avoid being a repeat victim of violence.

Margie Batek, the supervisor of social work at the hospital, developed the program in 2014. She will publicly present three' years worth of data for the first time Tuesday.

Batek's program targets children between the ages of 8 and 19 who have been treated at Children's Hospital for such things as gunshot wounds or stabbings. The kids and their families are paired with a mentor — a licensed social worker — who helps them access needed services and come up with goals to meet over the course of a year. 

The mentors will  "work with them to do just about anything the child has identified as a goal," Batek said. "Maybe it's getting into college, maybe it's getting employed, positive goals they can set to hopefully teach them that if you set goals and work toward things, you can achieve a better life.

"There is more to it than being on the street and being locked into whatever activity has put you in the hospital."

Of the 382 children to whom Batek has offered services, 109 families accepted, which means they met with a mentor at least six times over a year. Fifty-three children are currently receiving services.

The children are eligible if they were injured by an act of violence in St. Louis and St. Louis County and were treated at Children's Hospital. The hospital covers the program's costs.

None of the 38 kids who successfully completed the program, Batek said, have returned to Children's Hospital as a victim of violence, though she can't say whether they've been treated at other hospitals. She knows none of them have died from an act of violence.

"We feel really positive about the program thus far," Batek said. "At the end of our programs, we provide the children and the parent with a survey. The most common thing I get is, 'why does it just have to be for a year?' Which tells me that these are kids and families that are really benefiting."

Batek said that's part of the reason she's presenting the data to the public now, something she initially resisted, to protect those families.

"We’re three years into it now, the hospital is very committed to it, and I think that it would just be good for the public to know that there is a program that’s operating to try and help young people who’ve been involved in interpersonal violence," she said.

Batek hopes the presentation will encourage more hospitals to participate.

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