Emerson College is a cute, little private college in the middle of downtown Boston which is known for concentrating on programs that deliver quality education in communication and the arts. The tuition and fees are more than 50 grand a year, so the student body isn’t comprised for the most part of kids from nearby inner-city neighborhoods like Dorchester or the South End.

              One of its programs, on the other hand, is a unique and enterprising look at a condition of life which is typical of what goes on in Dorchester and the South End of Boston, as well as in other inner-city neighborhoods all over the United States.

              I’m talking about a program called the Engagement Lab, which creates multimedia featuring a collaboration with community organizations that focus on issues of importance to these organizations and groups, one of which is the issue of gun violence. If there’s another college or university in the United States which has inculcated gun violence into its curriculum, it’s news to me.

              The program at Emerson is a collaboration between the college and two other organizations which play important roles in trying to respond to gun violence on Boston’s inner-city streets. One of Emerson’s partners in this effort is the Center for Gun Violence Prevention at Mass. General Hospital which promotes safety in the home through clinical care and education. The other is the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a community-based organization founded by the mother of a teenager who was gunned down in 1993 on his way to a meeting of a group called Teens Against Gun Violence, believe it or not.

              Both of these groups are highlighted briefly in a new and provocative video created by Emerson’s Engagement Lab which is called Quiet Rooms and can be viewed right here.

              The video, which runs some 20 minutes plus, is basically a compilation of first-hand narratives of parents who sat in a Boston hospital waiting to be told whether their child was going to survive the heroic attempts of a trauma team to keep the victim alive after being shot by a gun. The term ‘quiet room,’ is how physicians in these hospitals refer to the room where parents, relatives and friends of a shooting victim have to sit and wait for what is often the worst news.

              This video is hardly an amateur production. The images are sharp, the dialog is clear, and most of all, the music which plays in the background sets and completely underscores the mood. And what is the mood or what we usually refer to as the ‘message’ of this film? The message is that the families which suddenly lose a child or an adult to gun violence, are totally unprepared to deal with the event, and the resources which they need to help them through this terrible and tragic event are few and far between.

              This is a different perspective than the one which is usually connected to gun violence, because there are many studies, anecdotal and evidence-based, which look at the individuals who are killed or wounded with a gun. In general terms, for homicide and aggravated assault, which together count for at least 100,000 hospital- ER admissions every year, we know the victims are mostly male, mostly minority, mostly residents of inner-city neighborhoods, mostly without jobs and mostly not in school.

              But the point of the Quiet Rooms video is that the person who’s brought to the ER with a bullet in his or her body isn’t the only victim of a gun assault. The people sitting in that quiet room waiting for the trauma surgeon to tell them what’s what are also victims of the same assault. And the way they are sometimes treated makes them feel like the perpetrator of a gun-violence event.

              I only hope that the Emerson Engagement Lab makes a follow-up video to Quiet Rooms which focuses on the testimonies of family and friends of shooting victims who explain how they and the injured or dead family member dealt with gun violence before the individual lying on a gurney down the hall was shot.

              Because gun violence doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere, the way someone gets bit by a mosquito or a tic. Half the time that someone is murdered with a gun, they actually committed the behavior which created a conflict with someone else who happened at that moment to be carrying a gun.

              The only way to make a substantial dent in gun violence numbers is to deal with its causes proactively, not after the violence takes place. Emerson’s Engagement Lab states that its goal is to “transform the narratives of gun violence.”

              The Quiet Rooms video is a great first step. I hope they will take the next step soon.

              And by the way, send them a donation when you get a chance. And don’t tell me how you’re broke because of what the mainstream media says is the ‘ruinous inflation.’ The latest inflation rate is 8.3%.  Give me a friggin’ break, okay?