Young children with no control of their surroundings are often exposed to horrific crime scenes, and authorities say it has a domino effect on Memphis’s and Shelby County’s future.
“If you look at the child who has been the victim of violence, and has grown up with violence, then it becomes their way of life,” Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, the former Sheriff and a visionary of criminal justice reform, told FOX13.
At least sixty percent of children in the United States are exposed to violence each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
FOX13 wants families to know there are resources available to children who have been exposed to traumatic events, such as shootings in their neighborhoods.
“Those resources are not tapped out,” Keisha Walker of Shelby County’s Office of Early Childhood and Youth, said. “We know that there's a huge need, but somehow we're always able to fill it.”
Walker suggests concerned caretakers call the Universal Parenting Places’ hotline, known as the “Warm Line,” which connects parents and caregivers with resources. The number to call is 844-UPP-WARM, or 844-877-9276.
The hotline is run by health professionals and social workers at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and can be reached Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.
“If families and communities don't know where to turn they can also call the Warm Line,” Walker said.
Parents and those looking for additional help may consider any of the following resources offered in Shelby County:
- Agape Child and Family Services, 901-323-3600
- Memphis Child Advocacy Center, 901-525-2377
- The Exchange Club and Family Center, 901-276-2200
- Shelby County Crime Victims Center, 901-222-3950
- Shelby County Schools Mental Health Center, 901-416-8484
- The Family Safety Center, 901-222-4400
- Family Hotline at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, 844-UPP-WARM
- Victim’s to Victory, 901-274-6828
Shelby County officials also suggest sharing concerns about your child with his or her pediatrician. If your child is in immediate danger, always call 911.
At-risk children, or those in need of care after a traumatic experience, will often display signs of needing help.
- Trouble sleeping and anxiety
- Clinginess or a need for closeness, which is a sign children fear being alone
- Not wanting to go to school
- Acting out of character
Walker called on the community – parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, community leaders, and others – to lookout for Shelby County youth.
“It is so critical that our communities and our neighborhoods and those close adults to those children really pay close attention to them,” Walker said. “Memphis has been very good at being responsive to the needs of our families and our children.”
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