At the age of 22, Dean J. Samuel was violently killed on July 4, 1996, five months shy of becoming a father. This tragic event devastated our family. But when my nephew was born he brought so much joy and fond memories of my brother. Although he was surrounded by love, support, and guidance, we could never fulfill the void of his father. This void became a hindrance in his progress and we knew that we could no longer protect him from the pain of his loss, but he had to discover ways to handle it in a healthy manner. This foundation was birthed after realizing that suffering can give way to hopelessness and despair, but we have joined together to not only encourage youth who have violently lost parents to SURVIVE, but to also empower them to THRIVE. By discovering their gift that is deposited inside each of them, they will begin to unlock the hidden treasure that brings meaning to life, hope, and purpose beyond the pain.
The death of a parent can be a very difficult and confusing time for a child. Children will deal with the death of a parent differently based on personal characteristics such as life experience, age, personality and ability to cope with stress. But the reaction of a child who suffers the violent death of a parent may take several forms. Some children may become anxious, fearful or withdrawn, symptoms that are referred to as internalizing problems, or taking fears inward. On the other hand, children who witness violence may believe that the use of violence is justified and shows they are powerful. They may learn to use violence to attain their wishes, or to identify with the aggressor, as a way to solve interpersonal conflict with the adult world or with their peers.These children show externalizing problems.
Past research on the inter-generational cycle of violence indicates that adults who were traumatized as children are more likely to commit crimes at a later age. To avoid this repetition, it is important to provide intervention at an early age to children who are exposed to or are victims of community violence.