Central Florida psychotherapist explains how exposure to violence affects children

ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s been nearly one week since four people were shot in an apartment complex in Orlando.


The shooting happened in the Jernigan gardens apartments off mercy drive.

It’s a place that is home to many children who unfortunately have seen this type of violence before including last year when a 10-year-old shot and killed her neighbor.

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Eyewitness news wanted to know what kind of impact this kind of exposure to violence can have on the children.

Once the crime scene tape gets unraveled after a neighborhood shooting, psychotherapist Pernell Bush makes his way in to hep children heal and deal with the aftermath.

“A lot of the body language is like, it’s just another day,” Bush said.

This summer alone, he’s been to five different neighborhoods where children were heavily present or impacted by a shooting in their neighborhood.

“Communities become normalized, immune to it,” Bush said. “Almost like it’s part of every day life.”

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Channel 9 saw a child’s bike left behind steps from where Macayla Patterson was killed last Friday at the Jernigan Gardens Apartments.

Video also caught dozens of children watching the fight that led tot eh shooting that killed her. After the shooting, kids were also walking around among the crime scene tape.

“If you see this as a normalized behavior in the community, where you see, people start fighting, and next thing they know, a gun has been pulled out and shots are fired. This is how you think situations are handled,” Bush said.

A year and a half ago, a 10-year-old from the same complex was arrested for shooting her neighbor, Lashun Rodgers. Rodgers and the child’s mother had just gotten into an argument.

23-year-old Delray Duncan, who was arrested for killing Patterson, also grew up in the complex.

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“It’s hard to think long-term about life,” Bush said. “Thinking, how can I survive in this moment?”

Bush said kids going to a program for an hour a two a week is up against what children see in their households and their neighborhoods around the clock. To combat that, children need to be shown and taught how to handle their emotions, deescalate situations and walk away.

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