A flash of a gun can rob children of their parents. The children of homicide victims are more than just statistics. They are a living reminder of the destruction that violence can wrought.
Ad Hoc Group Against Crime is now starting a support group for children of homicide victims.
"What about the children who have been victimized by homicide?" was the top of a discussion held at a Kansas City area library Monday night. The panel included four teens who themselves lost a loved one due to violence.
Heather Keller, a licensed and certified counselor on staff with Ad Hoc, moderated the panel. She counsels that children grieve differently.
"Depression looks different in kids than adults, so it may not be that sadness or tears. It may play out in anger," she said.
In 2012, 309 children in Kansas City lost their parents to homicides.
"They get lost in the shuffle. People aren't aware that they are grieving as well. They just assume that children are resilient and they are going to go back to normal," Keller said.
Shelia Syrus has had to give a lot of attention to Honesty, 7, and her 4-year-old brother, Jaron. The two youngsters were in the back seat of their parents' car when Qwentelia Vanzant and Jaron Syrus were gunned down at Blue Parkway and Hardesty Avenue. The victims' mothers are now raising the children.
"I have this cross on my table, and Jaron and Qwentelia's pictures are on there, and he'll say, "They are in there.' So I teach them that they are in heaven," Shelia Syrus said.
She said the children have struggled to recover from the horror that they saw.
"You just wonder what goes through those kids' minds. It's just hard," she said.
The support group will help provide resources such as counseling and donations to guardians struggling to raise the youngsters.
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