Mass murder sparks reflection for Indy youth programs committed to addressing trauma

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INDIANAPOLIS — Helping Indy’s youth deal with their own trauma by encouraging them to express themselves is an around the clock job. Sunday’s mass murder on the city’s near northeast side led some adult leaders to ask themselves tough questions.

“Are we doing enough?” asked VOICES Corp. Case Manager Aaron Green. “Are we asking the right questions? Are we really listening to give them a voice so that they can let out some of this aggression, this anger, this trauma?”

During an interview Monday evening at VOICES, student Austin Juarez, said hearing the news of the murders of a family on Adams Street was just another day for him and some of his peers.

“Nothing different, same day as yesterday and the day before that,” Juarez said. “Someone gets murdered, we move one. For us as youth, that’s all that happens. Somebody dies, we move on. Can’t do nothing about it. Even if it’s my friend or anybody, I don’t mean to sound selfish or mean, I feel bad for the life lost, but life has to go on.”

Juarez said he and his peers are consumed with trauma, and that is why programs like VOICES are so important.

“Seeing somebody on the floor dead, that’s normal,” Juarez explained “Seeing people get robbed, all that, that’s normal. So for them to help us open up, I don’t even know how to put it into words. I’m thankful for it.”

The weekend’s violence reiterated the need for positive role models and relationships.

“That’s what we’re here to do at the Martin Luther King Center is to help understand these kids, their troubles, their situations, and bring them closer to a brighter light, ” said Anthony McCloud, a junior community builder at the MLK Community Center.

During our interview, McCloud shared a message specifically for teens.

“Don’t let anyone doubt you or tell you otherwise,” McCloud said. “You a young king, you a young queen. You have purpose. You have a life, you can change someone else’s for the better. Don’t take that road.”

Green said this most recent round of homicides underscores the need for more youth resources in Indy.

“We need to talk about services, mental health services,” Green said. “We need more services where these kids are, we need more opportunities where these kids are. Hopefully, that’s what changes.”

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