Monterey County

Salinas police roll out new campaign to lessen violence kids see

Police said kids attending crime scenes does more harm than good

Salinas police take aim at children's exposure to violence

SALINAS, Calif. - Where there's caution tape, you'll find police on one side and a crowd on the other.

"It's almost like a spectator sport," said Sheldon Bryan, a Salinas police commander.

Kids are also on the scene taking in the flashing lights, usually the result of violence.

"The majority of us are all parents ourselves and it's very concerning for us to see family members with young children up on their shoulders, holding them or having their pre-teen children on bicycles while they're standing at crime scenes looking at a deceased body or a bloody crime scene," Bryan said.

Bryan co-chairs a subcommittee for the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace that wants to reduce the amount of violence kids see at crime scenes. They began to issue informative cards at crime scenes two weeks ago.

"This just gives a little bit of information about what seeing violence actually does physiologically to a child's brain when it's developing," Bryan said.

He added that development in the brain starts to deteriorate in kids when they are exposed to violent situations.

This is something Debbie Aguilar often confronts. She's the founder of A Time for Grieving and Healing, a group that helps mothers and families cope with the aftermath of violence in Salinas.

"They often go as the invisible; the invisible victims, the invisible children," Aguilar said.

Aguilar said even when kids say they don't need help dealing with violence, she steps in anyway.

"As mothers, just give them that touch on their shoulder, 'how are you baby? How are you? You can talk to me,'" she said.

Police said when they the cards to parents, it's not a way of telling parents how to parent their children but more of a warning sign of what could come as a result of the violence.

"We're not judging the parents, it's completely up to them how they want to react," Bryan said.

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