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Getting shot or assaulted can change a young person’s life forever. But just living with chronic community violence can be enough to rob children of their sense of safety, putting them into “survival mode,” making them ready to gear up for fight or flight. Exposure to community violence can affect children’s outlook on the future and their sense of control.

Here are ways that youth have described the impact of community violence in their lives:

  • I don’t know who to trust anymore.
  • I’m on edge all the time, like something’s going to happen to me, and I can’t be caught off guard.
  • I’ll do anything to stay safe. That’s why I carry a gun or knife, like my friends do.
  • I don’t expect to graduate from school. I’ll probably die young anyway.
  • I worry most about my little brother and sister getting shot.
  • My friends say I’m different since the shooting.
  • Sometimes thoughts pop up in my head, and I’m right back to the night my world changed.
  • I’m more tempted to get drunk or high to numb it all.
  • I feel angry even when nobody is messing with me.
  • I get jumpy or nervous at the smallest things or little sounds.
  • I just can’t stop thinking about all the violence, how it’s never going to end.