Groups step forward to help victims’ families: You are not alone

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CHICAGO – It’s a question we return to here in Chicago with horrifying regularity: What can be done about the gun violence?

But now, with a 9-year-old boy among the latest victims, social service agencies are responding with a message for the survivors.

The message is a very simple one.  That in spite of the gangs and the guns, we still live in a caring, compassionate city whose residents are reaching out to those affected by these latest murders with three simple words: You’re not alone.

A crisis responder from the group “Chicago Survivors” was among those standing with the mother of the boy killed in a shooting last night.  The responder was dispatched by Chicago police and they’ll be by her side for the next six months  or longer if she needs them.  They will help her deal with an unimaginable loss.

Susan Johnson is the group’s director.

“I’m here in part to say let’s not blame the victim anymore.  Let’s not blame the victim’s family anymore. Let’s start to understand what life is like from their point of view,” she says.

Members of the group are at crime scenes all over the city. They work around the clock. They’re the ones the police call when it’s time to help people suffering the effects of gun violence

The award-winning documentary “The Interrupters” also searched for answers on Chicago’s streets. The film followed volunteers trying to stem the violence. Acclaimed author Alex Kotlowitz was one of the producers but when it comes to the murder of a little boy, he’s a loss, too.”

“I don’t know what you say to a mother who’s lost her 9-year-old child. I can’t imagine,” he said.  “I couldn’t look her in the eye and tell her it’s going to get better. I guess my hope would be is that this will help lead us all to find some way out of this.”

For more information on Chicago Survivor, log on to http://www.chicagosurvivors.org/