Lawmaker pushes for mental health help for kids in violent commu -

Lawmaker pushes for mental health help for kids in violent communities

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Shooting in the 4200 block of West Maffitt in St. Louis’ The Ville neighborhood. (KMOV) Shooting in the 4200 block of West Maffitt in St. Louis’ The Ville neighborhood. (KMOV)

After witnessing violence on their own streets, experts say some young people in St. Louis are dealing with PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now a house resolution is making it's way through the Missouri Legislature to declare youth violence a "public health epidemic."

House Resolution 405 is sponsored by State Representative Bruce Franks-D, St. Louis. If it passes, it would allow state and federal funding for mental health resources for kids living in violent communities. The resources range from educating adults to be able to identify PTSD in a child, as well as providing therapists and counselors for kids to talk to. 

Angel Allen lost both her older brothers to gun violence. Quincy Moses was murdered in October 2005 and Walter Moses was murdered in December, 2013. Allen continues to struggle with healing from their deaths.

"Overwhelming, depressing...I don't think I can even describe it in words, but I went through a lot of different emotions," said Allen, "If you spent your entire life with a person, and now you have to figure out how to live without them."

Allen experiences much more than just sadness from her loss.

"Both of my brothers were found in alleys. When I go by one at night, I get anxiety," said Allen. She says her anxiety is also paired with depression and anger. 

At first, Allen believed the only way to cope was to act strong and internalize the pain.

"It's going on so much that how can I break down when everyone else is going through it also," said Allen.

Violent crime is just part of daily life for some communities in Missouri."

I have kids that walk around the neighborhood that hear gun shots and continue to walk like it's normal," said State Rep. Bruce Franks.

The normalcy of violence many kids in Missouri are experiencing is why Rep. Franks is so passionate about the resolution passing. He hopes state-funded resources will help these kids heal from PTSD.

"Being able to understand what a child is going through in their community and effective ways to teach and effective ways to help them cope with that," said Franks. 

Rep. Franks says this measure will go to its first vote next week. If it passes, it will move on to a vote on the house and senate floor. Franks says if it doesn't pass, he plans to go straight to Governor Eric Greitens to ask for an Executive Order to pass the resolution.

"If I don't know how to handle it, how can I expect the child, who we're supposed to teach, to know how to cope," said Allen. 

Full version of House Resolution 405 below:

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