Violence plagues our communities, but what we don’t usually talk about is the little ones who live in these neighborhoods.
How does violence affect them?
"We were playing outside and I was playing catch with my friend in the driveway. I just looked behind me and there's two guys shooting each other," said 7-year-old Isabella Isham.
The shooting happened in July. A man was seen walking through Denton Circle in Springfield armed with a shotgun.
For a few weeks, Isabella and her 9-year-old sister Gabriela wouldn't go back outside.
"I'm like 'Daddy, what's happening?'. He said 'Nothing...I'll tell you after'. And I was just really scared. I started crying," said Gabriela.
"Just in this building alone, there are 10 children. My heart was just going a 100 miles," said their mother Keleigh Griffith. "I was just trying to throw kids inside. The family downstairs has kids and I was just screaming ‘Get in! Get in!".
Every child on that street was impacted by what was happening.
"He didn't know where it (bullets) was going. So, it could’ve hit anyone. It could’ve even hit me or my sister," said Gabriela.
According to the study Weapon Involvement in the Victimization of Children, 17 million of the nation’s youth have been exposed to violence including a weapon as witnesses or victims. That’s 1 in 4 children.
Putting the statistics into perspective, Medical Director Stephen Boos works at Baystate helping children cope. He tells us what he sees everyday.
"Some of the children I see are permanently physically altered, some of them have mental scars, and all of them have had their lives and families disrupted," said Boos.
After time, some of these children begin to have emotional, behavioral, and health problems. Even changes in their genetic makeup. The biological changes result in illness, poor general health, and an early death.
Boos says there are ways to help your children.
"People don’t choose to live in terrible places. They’re thrust there," said Boos.
He suggests adopting a parenting style built on positivity.
"The parents who watches closely, responds and teaches but is flexible and really uses praise and reward as the cornerstone of their parenting. That makes a difference," he said.
Gabriela wants to be the first woman president when she grows up. Isabella wants to be a teacher.
"It’s so hard to think about because there were just kids everywhere," said Keleigh.
Those kids will remember that day forever. It was a day of fear and terror.
I asked Gabriela what she would say to the person that scared her that day.
"Why would you do that? You put many lives in danger. And please don't do it again because you could've killed anyone," she responded.
Copyright 2015 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.