Violent week for children in Indianapolis

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Multiple times this week innocent children in Indianapolis have gotten caught up in violent situations.

Studies have shown that children who witness violence or are affected by violence may be more aggressive growing up and have trouble learning. That's why advocates said aftercare programs in our city are so important.

It all started Sunday, with video of a fight in a city park going viral. Family members of a 14-year-old girl later apologized for the girl's behavior. She's accused of beating a teen victim and the victim's five-year-old brother.

Then on Tuesday night, a seven-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother were injured as a house off Kenyon Street got shot up. Luckily the children were treated and released at Riley Hospital. We're told they're now in the custody of child protective services.

"It's very unfortunate any time a small child, especially seven and six years old are the victims of crimes in which adults are the intended targets," said Lt. Richard Riddle, with IMPD.

Early Wednesday morning, another woman was fatally shot inside an east side apartment in what investigators call a domestic situation. Four children were present during that shooting, ranging in age from eight until 13.

While it may seem like the streets are swallowing up children, there are alternatives to violence.

"A lot of our program is just trying to show the kids that there is a better way, and they can have a positive life no matter what their circumstances are," said Ashleigh Coster, Program Director at the YMCA.

Coster runs a program on-site at Laurelwood public housing on the city's south side. She said the program's been there for more than a decade. They are in year two, though, of a federal grant which allows them to hold free after-school programs five nights a week.

Coster said it provides structure for children, help for homework, even meals. And she said the kids' performance in school is up to, by as much as 85 percent.

The goal for her and the volunteers is providing somewhere safe for children at all times.

"Being here in their community is key," she said.

Coster said the YMCA is working to try and establish funding to get on-site programs in low income complexes across the city.

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