Mothers and teachers comfort children in light of unrest

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Elementary teacher Kayla Thompson feared for her students. Thompson’s 6th Elementary participated in the protests in Ferguson surrounding the death of Michael Brown.

“I’d rather them not be out there protesting,” Thompson said. “I’m out there; I see how dangerous it is.”

Thompson said she believes it’s important to help children be aware of what is going on in their city. She had her students write a paper that prompted them to express how they felt about the events surrounding Ferguson. Thompson said one student wrote he felt he wasn’t safe, he was fearful for his family and he believed they should live somewhere else. Thompson said she believes a majority of the fear stems from the police.

Rena Perry a mother and active protestor said her child Amari Perry shouldn’t have to fear policemen.

 

A mother and her child stand during a protest in Ferguson, MO. / photo by Natalie Martinez

She said she tells her daughter that not all policemen are bad and it’s important to show support for her community. Amari Perry is one of several children who couldn’t attend school for a week and two days until the schools in Ferguson felt it was safe for children to begin school. Rena Perry attended protests early with her children and left early because it can get dangerous late at night.

While the protests were heating up in Ferguson many members of the community pulled together to assist in the rehabilitation. Rene Murph is a department associate for the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs for Webster University. During protests, she handed out info packets, alongside the Association of Black Psychologists tent and passed out coloring books for parents and children.

The booklets educated parents on the importance of mental health for a child’s growth and development.

“My concern is we don’t forget the children,” Murph said. “This was a traumatic event for adults; you can only imagine what it must have been for the children.”

Murph said her grandson goes to school a few blocks from Ferguson. She said he was disturbed by viewing officers in military gear on his way to school. Murph said this affected her grandson’s first few weeks of school. She said her grandson was encouraged to not attend school till the following year. However, Murph told her daughter to keep her grandson in school because it was important for him to be in a healthy learning environment.

 

A child looks out over a fountain that has been dyed red in downtown St. Louis. / photo by Natalie Martinez

Murph said when a child experiences trauma and it’s not recognized they will not get the services they need to help work through it. It can cause other severe emotional disturbances later on. In Murph’s coloring books there are happy faces and sad faces so that children can identify and express how they feel to their parents.

Murph believes that although what has happened in Ferguson is a bad thing there can be some good in showing what can be done to support the community. Many children and younger generations are at the front lines of these protests.

Thompson as a teacher she realized many of the children feel hopeless.

“I tell them you can make a difference, you can change this but it starts with children it starts with young adults, it starts with the younger generations,” Thompson said.

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