It is often the case that many of those affected by Serious Youth Violence (SYV) have been in need of assistance with regard to their children.
Families who have lost loved ones or who have been affected by SYV are often left to pick up the pieces after such a tragedy. Not only do they have to come to terms with the sudden, violent passing of a loved, with all the trauma that brings, they also find themselves having to do the awfully practical things such as arrange funerals and the other unfortunate activities that come with such a tragedy. If their child’s death has gleaned media attention, this may also result in unwanted press and radio attention. Some journalists and media pundits sometimes seek to uncover any negative aspect to a dead young person’s behaviour and suggest this may have played a part in their deaths.
Moreover, as well as having to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, there is also a clear financial perspective added to this heartbreak, one for which they have invariably not made any allowances. (Most parents do not have monies aside to bury their children and none should.)
In the immediate aftermath of such tragedies, parents, as well as other family members, are in need of counselling to enable them to come to terms with the events that have just occurred. Sometimes, it is the case that they need an initial shoulder to cry on as part of the healing process. However, most would subsequently require more involved counselling sessions over months if not years to enable them to address the trauma that they experience. It is only after this that that the healing process can begin. What we do know is that when parents talk about the loss of a loved one due to SYV, irrespective of whether it happened last year or ten years ago, the emotions are still raw and pain is still such, that it may have well occurred last week. That is why counselling and support are so crucial.
Often, families, whether they are religious or not, tend to turn to the church. They are invariably in contact with the church (and its pastor or vicar) as there is a need to organise a funeral. However, those who attend church are likely to gravitate toward the church leader at this time, while the more community-focused pastor or clergy will make themselves available to any families in need of their assistance. While most clergy have an excellent “bedside manner”, this does not make up for training or some form of learning in how best to offer support to grieving parents. Far too many church leaders have to learn on the job; they are thrown into the lion’s den when forced to respond to the sudden tragic and violent death of a young person. Many would benefit from having undergone some training in counselling, which would enable them to better meet the emotional and spiritual needs of those who experience the loss of loved ones to SYV.
Early intervention and support
There is little doubt that prevention is better than cure. If one cannot prevent then it is important that strategic interventions take place to mitigate against any potential dangers. Parents who have lost sons (and daughters) to SYV invariably lament over the lack of support when the situation with their offspring began to turn awry. While young people have youth workers and other services to which they can turn when they experience difficulties (it should be pointed out that since 2010, and the austerity cuts that the then Coalition Government implemented, tens of thousands of youth-related posts disappeared), adults have very little provision or advice available to help them.
Data shows that mothers are often the most in need of this help. For instance, to whom does a single mother turn if her growing teenage son begins to keep company with wrong crowd? What do they if their young son starts to come home with expensive items which are out of their income range or are staying out late at night? These are often the signs that a boy or girl are engaged in activities that may endanger them in due course. To whom can a parent turn in these situations? Thankfully, there are a handful of small organisations, most of whom are in London, which seek to support these women. However, these organisations are small in size and operate on a shoestring budget. A good number would benefit from the financial assistance that was withdrawn to many third sector organisations during the aforementioned austerity cuts.
This website aims to resource those parents and guardians who have lost loved ones to SYV, or are worried that their sons and daughters are vulnerable to becoming a victim of it.