We woke up to the terrible news yesterday, that three police officers were shot performing their duty – coming to the aid of a believed victim of a violent crime – and horrifically, two were killed. There are children in our communities who also learned of this heinous act, however for them, the news will be forever life altering.
One of the officers killed was a father to two little kids, with a third on the way. One of the alleged perpetrators was also a father to two little kids. The children of the fallen officer will suffer with the knowledge of what happened to their father, and the loss of him in their daily lives as their dad, forever. I hope, and fully expect, they will be surrounded with immense love and support from family, friends, neighbors, their broader community, schools, and elsewhere. This support will be critical for the children’s health and wellbeing, and I am grateful to know that the community is eager to step up to support them.
I hope that the children of the alleged perpetrator will also be surrounded with loving support from their neighbors, community, schools, and elsewhere. This support is also critical for their health and wellbeing. The children here are all innocent victims of the acts of this heinous night.
Child victims of crime such as this suffer shock, trauma, grief, anger, confusion, devastation and more. Child victims connected to the alleged perpetrator(s) of acts like this, also experience stigma, shame, shared blame imposed upon them by others, and potentially isolation. This can result in the child experiencing bullying and harassment while still struggling with the other emotions, and trying to continue to engage in their prior activities, as well as still trying to be able to just be a kid.
I ask the community to please consider all child victims when crime has occurred. I ask schools of these children to please release a statement to all staff, including volunteers (coaches, etc.), vendors and contracted service providers (transportation companies, etc.), declaring the educational system’s support of all children impacted by these events, that children affected should receive support and compassion from all school related personnel and volunteers; to remain observant, and report any negative behavior directed at children impacted by these events, by peers or adults, to the proper authorities at the school, to work with parents and caregivers on creating a plan for the child to feel comforted at school, to identify a safe place and person at the school, ideally someone that child is already bonded with, whom the child can go to if the child is struggling, or needs to report a negative interaction with someone.
Children are innocent and vulnerable members of our communities. When violence, arrest, and/or loss occurs, they deserve to be surrounded in love, gentleness, compassion, and still, when they feel able, fun.
Aileen Keays is Senior Project Director for the Connecticut Children with Incarcerated Parents Initiative at UConn’s Institute for Municipal & Regional Policy.