Journalist Michelle Chen released a thought provoking opinion piece in Al Jazeera America this week, “The PTSD epidemic in our most violence neighborhoods,” underscoring the importance of treating the community cycle of violent behavior as a cycle of behavior rooted in public health principles—not simply as a crime problem.
Chen argues that violence doesn’t simply cause generalized harm to society or even just physical harm–it also causes psychological harm that creates collateral and lasting damage within the communities it plagues. In other words, violence has the power to beget more violence, and more harm for generation after generation.
“It’s an epidemic of trauma-related stress in the hospitals, schools and living rooms of these beleaguered communities.”
We cannot truly confront the physical trauma created by community violence, she says, without also treating the psychological trauma, most often seen as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The problem is real and the problem is apparent–what’s less apparent is whether we as a society will accept this as truth and respond accordingly.
Here are five facts about violence and psychological trauma that Chen shares to build her case–facts that we know you’ll find compelling:
- A recent study of hospital patients in inner-city communities in Atlanta revealed rates of PTSD symptoms comparable to those seen in veterans of the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars. At least 1 in 3 respondents reported that at some point in their lives they had experienced symptoms.
- In another study on patients at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, more than 4 in 10 patients screened showed symptoms of PTSD.
- Studies on youths have traced PTSD symptoms back to forms of violence that have become routine in rough city neighborhoods.
- A survey by the Family-Informed Trauma Treatment Center of inner city kids revealed that more than 80 percent have experienced “one or more traumatic events.”
- According to a 2012 report from the Office of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, trauma experienced early in life could more than double “the risk and severity of post-traumatic injuries and mental health disorders.”
>> Read the full article: http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/3/ptsd-mental-healthgunviolencetrauma.html