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Peoria parents call for trauma counseling

PEORIA (WEEK) – From the start of summer to back to school week, there have been six murders in Peoria.

Two of them have been children.

All of them within no more than a mile of a local school.

That doesn’t take into account the other shootings where the victims have survived.

A little boy walks outside and recognizes the sound of gunfire, after a 17-year-old was shot in the stomach near his house last week.

“I don’t want my kids to grow up and not even be afraid of that stuff or even know if they should ask for help if they hear something like that,” said Hannah Julien, mother of two.

For this Peoria mom, in-school trauma counseling is just as important as any other major subject.

“That’s where it really starts,” she said. If you’re not emotionally ready to learn, that’s automatically going to effect your grades.”

And it’s not a matter of “if” students walk into school trauma, but instead it’s “how much.”

“There’s a normalization of this trauma,” said Ron Tyler, director of outreach at Family Core. “Saying “oh I saw a shooting” or “oh that was probably just fireworks,” and downplaying it.”

That could lead to difficulty concentrating in school. And that could be misinterpreted by teachers.

“Teachers and counselors aren’t as qualified as they should be,” Julien said. “They don’t have the right training to understand the underlying issues.”

But, with Peoria’s last six homicides happening within a mile of a school, the district is taking steps.

They say their counselors have completed rigorous, updated training.

And their partners in the wrap around center have developed newer, creative ways to support students.

“”For kids that are traumatized, they really need to feel safe, safe emotionally, safe socially,  safe physically,” said Tyler. “We have to be able to handle it.”

“Kids are not gonna come to us and say hey this happened in my neighborhood.”

For some Peoria families, they say it’s the new normal.

‘It’s sad. It’s not only sad, it’s scary,” said Julien.

Jason Howell

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