PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A recent string of deadly shootings involving children in Philadelphia has both city and community leaders searching for answers. But it’s giving little comfort to the city’s youngest residents who witness the bloodshed day in and day out.
Crisis counselors are heading directly to crime scenes to help police officers deal with trauma, but how are community members coping?
A locker inside Boys’ Latin Charter School was decorated by students after the murder of a classmate last month.
“From my experience with Boys’ Latin, they really go in, they get the counselors to talk to the kids, they bring in a lot of things for them,” Maxayne Gooden said.
Trauma and grief counseling for children is something many Philadelphia schools are leaning into as a wave of child shootings has recently consumed the city.
“They are suffering,” Williesha Robinson-Bethel said.
Two mothers more than suspect PTSD has become a reality for local children and they have good reason. Gooden’s son, Jahsun Patton, was a senior at Boys’ Latin.
“He was murdered November of 2017,” Gooden said.
Robinson-Bethel’s son, William, was a 10th grader at the school.
“He was shot April 1, 2018,” she said.
Both have seen firsthand the way that the deaths of young people impact other children, including Gooden’s daughter following her brother’s death.
“She’s scared, she looks around and always thinks someone’s going to get her,” Gooden said.
Lasting anxiety like this is clearly a reality for adults impacted by violence.
For now, leaning on each other and other parents who have lost and understand, is where comfort is found. But it’s also found in action.
Gooden mentors youth and assists co-victims of traumatic loss.
“I go out and visit the family and give them emotional support,” she said.
Robinson-Bethel is taking action by training with the Stop The Bleed program to learn how to render aid to shooting or stabbing victims.
“It’s a good thing to know. It’s excellent but to think about why we are here and why we have to go to a training class to learn how to stop a victim from bleeding, it’s awful,” she said.
Both women say that prayer has helped with their trauma, but also that the pain never goes away — not for them or their children’s friends.