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Shootings at youth football games result in more security and trauma concerns

During one youth football game last October, one child was injured and a man was injured in a shooting.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In October, gunshots rang out at Arlington Lions Club field during a youth football game. 

"I was astonished that people would go to that length," said Charlie Largen.

While the kids were playing a tournament game on the field, shots were fired just outside the fence line at someone who was at the game. One man was killed, and a child was shot.

RELATED: 7-year-old child shot, man killed during youth football game in Arlington

"We do not want anything like that, and we are taking precautions to prevent it," said Largen.

In addition to the deadly shooting in October, another shooting happened over the weekend in Mandarin.

RELATED: JSO: Argument during youth football game ends in shooting at Greenland Park

Largen said this season the Arlington Lions Club is beefing up security. Anyone coming through the single person entry gate will be checked. Adult behavior will also be closely monitored. 

"If they are showing hostility in behavior, we will ask them to leave," said Largen. "We are going to have a police officer at all of our tournaments."

Experts say when children witness a shooting it creates trauma. According to one report, an estimated 3 million children witness a shooting each year. 

"Anytime a child experiences anything traumatic it can have short term and long term effects," said Dr. Terrie Andrews, a behavioral health expert at Baptist Hospital and Wolfson Children's Hospital.

Andrews said with children the trauma may manifest itself several ways

"Maybe some anger, some sadness, tearfulness, those are some of the short term and long term effects you may see when a child experience a traumatic event," Andrews explained.

Dr. Andrews' advice to parents is in order to work through it is do not be afraid to have what she calls a round table conversation with your child about what happened.

"As you begin to talk about it there is less emotions tied to it and again children feel safe being with the parents because during that round table the parents are going to reassure them they will never let anything happen to you," said Andrews. "They will assure you that you are completely safe. "

She said there is healing in these round table conversations for children and parents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unusual amount of trauma on children and so Baptist and Wolfson has created a 24/7 helpline so parents and children can reach out. It is free and it is confidential.

The number is 904-202-7900.

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