In rash of violence, KCMO children are witnessing heinous crimes

Posted at 5:26 PM, Aug 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 19:31:18-04

A Thursday night shooting outside a Church's Chicken off of Highway 71 and Gregory killed one and injured others, including a child.

"This is a devastating scene," Sgt. Kari Thompson, a KCPD spokeswoman, said.

Police said another child, who wasn't hurt, saw the shooting.

Just last Saturday, gunfire at 58th and College killed 9-year-old Jayden and his cousin, 8-year-old Montell, at their home. In this case, other children also witnessed the violence.

"It changes their presumption of safety," Dr. Bob Batterson, a child psychiatrist at Children's Mercy Hospital, said.

Batterson helps children and adolescences who've seen traumatic events.

“Some people who are highly traumatized cannot even remember a lot of specific details about the event. It's almost as if they were in a state of shock in what happened so that changes the grieving process," Batterson said.

There are warning signs to look for.

With older children, it's anxiety, sleep deprivation, fear of separation and they're hyper-vigilant. But those under the age of six, you can see it in the way they play.

"Maybe monsters are attacking in ways that they hadn't quite attacked before or there may be some large evil that's out there but the play may be kind of symbolic of the trauma," Batterson said.

In the immediate aftermath, police offer support in a number of ways.

Late last month, officers and detectives tended to the children whose mother was killed in front of them in Pendleton Heights.

There's also Jennifer Miller, the KCPD's victim advocate.

"With a child I go back to making that little one feel safe, especially if it's a parent or caregiver that has been injured or killed. They need to be in a safe environment," Miller said.

She stays in touch throughout the grieving process, but there's only so much she can do.

"Even after a funeral, even after charges have been filed, even after someone has been sentenced it is not the end for that family," Miller said.

The child wounded Thursday night is in critical condition. 

Last year, seven children were murdered in Kansas City. This year, the count is at five.



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