YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In 2021, at least 138 people were shot in Youngstown and 30 people were killed from gunfire.

But, when we think of these numbers, there’s one that often gets overlooked — the number of children left behind when their parent is killed.

In 2021, more than 50 children in Youngstown lost a parent to violence.

“He’s never gonna get to meet his father. That’s still something that still I battle,” said Victornykque Nixon.

Victornykque was pregnant when her boyfriend Van Lightning was shot and killed on the south side of Youngstown. She said they were happy to be expecting a baby boy.

“He didn’t have a son, so he always wanted to experience a son, so this is his first and only son, and then now he don’t even got a chance to experience that,” she said.

Van already had three daughters. If you drive over to the corner of Glenwood and Almyra where he was killed, you’ll see a memorial for him with pictures of him and his girls.

A few minutes down the road is a memorial for Terrance Sellers. He had two sons, both under two years old when he died. And, just down the road from that, you’ll see a memorial for Armani Wainwright, she had three kids.

In 2020, over 40 kids lost a parent to violence. In 2019 it was 39 children and in 2018 that number was 34. This means, in the past four years, more than 160 children lost a parent to violence in Youngstown.

Victornykque says she shows her son pictures and videos of Van to show him who he was.

“I still think daily, like, my son dad is just gone and it was for something so petty that didn’t even make sense to me, and he’s just gone for no reason,” she said.

Victornykque said she hopes people will take a message from this.

“You have to really focus on your kids because any wrong move, any choice, any decision you make is really gonna affect your kids… All of this is not worth it at all, to have somebody father taken away from them for the rest of their life,” she said.

Studies show that when a child loses a parent at a young age, it can lead to mental health issues, problems at school and even problems with the law later in life.

“When a parent is incarcerated, it’s the same thing because that separation from that child, you know, to that child who can’t see that parent, it’s the same type of process,” said Guy Burney with C.I.R.V. Youngstown.

Burney works hands-on with families affected by violence and sees the effects left behind.

“What do we want for our children, right? We have to ask that question. Where do you want your child to be?” he said.

Burney says C.I.R.V. is a good resource for anyone who has been affected by violence, but also for anyone who may be looking to turn their life around and who doesn’t know where to start. You can reach them online or by calling 330-742-8779.