“As an adult I’m traumatized; most of the kids are [too,]” said Babcock, who works mainly with teenagers in the area as part of a traveling youth center. “The kids are saying the police need to talk to youth and need to hear them. The youth are not bad just because they’re teenagers.”
Both Tate and Babcock are working to provide young people and children in the community with access to counselors or other resources so that they don’t feel overwhelmed. Tate has been going to rallies with other counselors to talk to families or teens.
The St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund is planning to send an additional 25 counselors to the school district when classes start, effectively doubling the amount of counselors available to students.
While younger children may be without a clear schedule because of the protests, older teens have had the opportunity to participate in large daily protests likely for the first time. Amy Hunter, director of Racial Justice at the YWCA in St. Louis, said she has talked to many of the younger protesters, some of whom are the same age as her teenage children. She said she has found signs of hopefulness among the protesters, in addition to their anger over the death of Michael Brown.
“For many of the young people it’s one of the first times to have their voice and have their voice heard,” Hunter said. “This is how social movements change forever. I think a lot of the older middle-aged people are encouraging them to have their voices heard in a nonviolent way.”