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In Wake Of Murder Of Melissa Ortega, 8, Little Village Parents Demand New Outlets For Kids Suffering In Violent Environment

By Sabrina Franza

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Memorials lined the streets of the Little Village community Tuesday, placed for victims of gun violence.

Parents are angry - even more so since the death of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega over the weekend.

CBS 2's Sabrina Franza spoke with two mothers about what they say their neighborhood needs to break this deadly trend.

Melissa's death shook the Little Village community – but to those who live there, they say it was not a shock.

In the days after her death, parents are pushing for more mental health resources – a new outlet, they say, for generational pain and violence in the place their kids grow up.

"It's going off maybe every five, 10 minutes every night – 10 gunshots on that side of the neighborhood, 10 gunshots on that side, 15 on that side," said parent Maribel Medina.

Such a situation is normal for Medina, a mom in Little Village. But it is not the reality she wants.

"That's not what I want my kids to grow up thinking – that this is normal," Medina said.

Medina has a bullet hole outside of her home from a shooting last April. There is also a memorial nearby for a young man who was killed in that shooting - which Medina and her daughter all heard.

Medina's 17-year-old daughter used to spend hours studying by the window, inches away from the brick that was hit by a bullet – and has been suffering.

"She's been failing her classes," Medina said.

Moms like Medina are heartbroken over the loss of 8-year-old Melissa, who was hit by a bullet intended for someone else. Medina is part of the Little Village Community Council, along with Graciela Garcia.

Garcia's daughter is 7.

"Now I'm going to have to be ready to jump and shield her from the possibility of someone shooting her or killing her," said Garcia, head organizer at the community council.

Both women say mental health resources are the answer.

"Also remove the negative stigma that comes attached when someone reaches out for help," Garcia said.

They say the need to give kids a productive outlet is dire when they are surrounded by constant violence.

"You're feeling rage. You're feeling desperation. And what are you going to think? What's your outlet going to be?" said Medina. "If you're around the wrong person, they're going to send you for revenge."

The Little Village Community Council is working to build their mental health facility for their community – a grassroots effort for neighbors to help their youngest neighbors, the kids.

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