In Oakland, California’s inner city youth are reportedly suffering from a deeper and more complex version of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) called “Hood Disease,” which is affecting 30% of its kids, according to a report by the local CBS affiliate in San Francisco.
For children in parts of Oakland, survival is often a daily struggle. The lives of youth in poverty-stricken neighborhoods is replete with violence. The environment resembles that of a war zone, and trauma is no stranger. But, unlike soldiers, these children never leave their combat zones. And for these emotionally-embattled kids, the way up and out isn’t necessarily through school.
“Take anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of PTSD, and the things we are currently emphasizing in school will fall off their radar. Because frankly it does not matter… if we don’t survive the walk home,” said Jeff Duncan-Andrade Ph.D. of San Francisco State University.
According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, frequent violence dramatically limits academic achievement in neighborhoods with high crime rates and can even lead to a decrease in one’s memory, which has a direct impact on student learning.
Gun violence is reportedly just one stressor that has children in poverty-ridden neighborhoods such as those in Oakland deeply perturbed. In 2013 alone, CBS reported that, of 47 recorded lockdowns, almost all were located in East and West Oakland, and approximately two thirds of murders last year were concentrated in East Oakland.
With so much emotionally-charged violence surrounding them, one teacher at Fremont High School in Oakland points out that, for kids who suffer from “Hood Disease,” almost anything can set them off – even something as small as saying, “please go have a seat.”