Life through eyes of children who lost parents to murder - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Social worker explores life through eyes of children who lost parents to murder

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Christa and Michael Clark were shot dead inside this home at 2108 21st Street in Rockford. Police say two children were inside the home when it happened. Christa and Michael Clark were shot dead inside this home at 2108 21st Street in Rockford. Police say two children were inside the home when it happened.

By Samantha Ptashkin

ROCKFORD (WREX)- Witnessing a murder can traumatize a person for life. It can be especially difficult for children, who in some cases don't yet have a basic understanding of life and death. 

Rockford Police say a seven year old and one year old were both inside the home on 21st Street early Monday morning, when Michael and Christa Clark were shot dead. Sue Razbadouski, executive director at Family Counseling Services in Rockford, says the incident could affect them in different ways. "I don't know if get over it is a good description, you get through it," Razbadouski said.

She says the baby would never remember what happened inside the home on 21st Street, but the incident could still cause a lot of irritability. "They're looking for their primary care giver, the parents, and they're no longer available."

The impact on an older child like the seven year old, might be even more severe. He or she might have trouble sleeping, they could get clingy, frustrated, angered and even blame themselves. "The kid might be thinking, 'if only I had come downstairs or if only I had done this, or I was bad and that's why mommy and daddy are gone'," Razbadouski said.

She suggests counseling and letting children openly discuss what happened. "Part of it requires listening to the child a little bit and seeing what they have to say and using their language and language they'll understand."

Razbadouski also says it's not uncommon for the child to have flashbacks of the incident. In a case like this, where the murder happened at home, continuing to live there could make those traumatic memories worse.

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