For many Chicago parents in areas where the sound of bullets can punctuate the air, this year’s rise in homicides and shootings has led increased measures to protect their children from becoming innocent victims of violence, the Chicago Tribune reports. That often means setting rigid curfews, limiting where their children can play. or keeping their days filled with indoor activities. Children are chafing at the limits on their movements on hot summer days and long for the freedom that older siblings or friends in safer neighborhoods enjoy. “I want to be able to walk around in a neighborhood and not think about getting shot,” said Samaiya Butler, 14. Children interviewed by the Tribune with the permission of their parents seemed resigned to the need for all the precaution. That doesn’t stop them from frequently complaining or asking to go outside by themselves.
Tali Raviv, a psychologist who works with children coping with trauma, said parents who live in more dangerous neighborhoods face difficult decisions that can have a developmental impact on their children. Playing outside might put them at some risk, but limiting their interaction with the outside world also has consequences, from hurting social skills to contributing to depression, she said. The fear of violence “gets really blown up in a parent’s mind,” Raviv said. The damage from even witnessing violence can be severe, though. James Garbarino, a professor at Loyola University Chicago who specializes in the psychological impact of violence on children, said youngsters who experience traumatic events can typically take a year to fully recover. For children raised in neighborhoods where violence is commonplace, he said, “it’s hard to say everything’s back to normal because normal is the problem.”