Mary Catherine- Victims’ Services

I definitely believe that when trauma goes untreated it puts people at a much higher risk of committing crimes. The brief experience I had working with delinquent kids I would say probably every single one of them had experience trauma in their life. Not necessarily the trauma of being a crime victim but probably some of the traumas were criminal in nature even though charges were never brought. I think kids who experience trauma look to find safety. I think there’s a group of those kids who feel safe within a gang for instance because they weren’t safe in their previously life so their looking for a place that they can feel safe.

It’s hard to get parents sometimes to appreciate that, yes they’re teenagers, yes they need to be with their peers, but if they’re not feeling really solidly connected here at home, the risk of them connecting with people out there that will be their surrogate family that will give them the love and security that they wanted, it’s much higher. I certainly saw parents that were angry and frustrated that their child had been arrested multiple times and had kind of thrown up their hands and said, “That’s it! I’ve had it.” I tried to get them to see that that might be the worst thing to do and that put them at so much further risk. I understood their frustrations, and I understood them saying, “Nothing I’ve tried has worked here.” but there was a part of me that thought, “You’ve got to latch on to this kid hard because he’s at a crossroads and I think what you do can impact what road he takes.

We live in a city with a huge amount of trauma, and I think people don’t even recognize the trauma. When I would sit down with crime victims, one of the things I would ask about was the history of traumas and then a month or two later they would say something like, “After my uncle’s murder” and I would say, “Do you remember when I asked you about traumas? You’ve never mentioned your uncles murder.” In a city where someone is murdered almost everyday, over the period of 15 years, after a kid hits adolescence, the odds of them knowing one of those people is pretty large. Particularly if you’re living in a part of the city where crime tends to be higher. I think it’s shocking and saddening that so many children know at least someone who’s been shot or killed.

Mary Catherine Lowery- Victims’ Services

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