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Parenting & Community Violence


Community violence is far too common for many individuals. Often, we do not ‘know what to do or how to help keep our children safe when violence occurs in our neighborhoods. Below I outline a few tips that parents can use, if they reside in a neighborhood that experiences frequent acts of community violence.


  1. Take care of your feelings—As a parent remember that you need to take care of yourself to be able to take the best care of your children. Thus, make sure that you are using basic wellness practices. Such practices include: deep breathing daily, getting at least 7 hours of sleep, eating a diet rich in fruit and veggies, and exercising for 20 minutes daily. All of these are natural mood boosters that reduce stress and increase good feelings. In addition to these things, parents may also want to journal about stress and other overwhelming feelings. When we journal about our feelings it allows us to release them as opposed to holding onto them which makes us feel worse. When we manage our feelings, we are able to listen to and attend to our children’s feelings as well.

  2. Discuss feelings—Our children feel a lot of things when they see or hear about violence. Let them know you are there to listen to them by asking them, “how are you feeling.” Encourage them to talk to you about their feelings of worry or fear. Post a feeling chart that shows the name of the different feelings they can experience. This will allow them to be able to their emotions. When children can label and speak freely about their feelings, it helps them feel less overwhelmed.

  3. Reclaim your power—One outcome of experiencing community violence is feeling powerless. Due to its random nature, you feel as if you cannot do anything about it. While it may be hard to eliminate community violence, you can help reduce it. You can reach out to local officials to increase lighting in your neighborhood. You can advocate for these other crime reducing strategies: eliminating deteriorating housing, funding for youth mental health programming, and funding for improved police-community relationships. By effectively organizing and advocating for changes in your neighborhood, you can drastically reduce community violence.

  4. Find the fun again—Life has ups and downs, joys and pains, and violence and healing. Thus, when violence occurs, we want to eventually find the fun again. As a family, find a favorite park, game, movie, or song. Create a list of fun things that you can do as a family and incorporate them weekly. Increase the use of these things when acts of violence occur. While the fun will not make the crime go away, it may help the family feel a sense of normalcy.

Community violence is a complicated issue that affects far too many people. While we continue to enact laws, policies, and interventions to help eradicate community violence, we must take care of ourselves and our families in the meantime.


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