Trauma counseling for child victims: 22 RPS students shot this school year

25 Children shot over the past school year in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - This school year alone, 22 Richmond Public School students have been struck by bullets. Two of them did not survive.

Third-grader Markiya Simone Dickson was killed by stray bullets in Carter Jones Park during a community cookout on Sunday. A memorial to her is decorated with messages reading "protect our children.” Dickson had formerly attended a Richmond Public School, and had transferred out of the district.

There was another boy who was hit in the same crossfire. Eleven-year-old Jaquez Moses survived, and must now find a way to recover both physically and emotionally.

“I thought it was firecrackers, so I didn’t pay attention to it. That’s when I noticed I was bleeding and I ran to my grandma and my mom,” said Moses.

Moses will now need intensive counseling to help him cope with the trauma of being shot at a community cookout, filled with children and families.

Richmond Public Schools has a team of crisis and grief counselors to help students who are victims of violence and their families.

Child Savers is a non-profit organization that specializes in counseling children who suffer any kind of violence or abuse. Child Savers is partnering with RPS to give in-school and at-home therapy.

”It never gets back to normal,” said Child Savers Director of Mental Health John Richardson-Lauve. “But we have to help kids get back to a new normal.”

Richardson-Lauve says a child will show the effects of a crisis in many different ways.

“Some of that’s being withdrawn and isolating and not wanting to interact with people. Sometimes it’s about irritability and aggression… kids who act out and are overly violent. It could be very thin skin, very emotional,” said Richardson-Lauve.

To begin healing, children must be made to feel safe and encouraged to share their story, so others can help them carry the burden.

“Helping kids to tell their stories makes things less scary on the outside because it’s a little less scary when it’s on the outside, when someone else knows it and can hold it, than when it’s on the inside,” said Richardson-Lauve.

Markiya Dickson’s funeral will be held June 7 at noon at the Arthur Ashe Center.

Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.