May 16, 2014 12:30 AM
OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — In the inner city, a health problem is making it
harder for young people to learn. The Centers for Disease Control said
30 percent of inner city kids suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
The CDC said these children often live in virtual war zones. Doctors
at Harvard said they actually suffer from a more complex form of PTSD
that some call “hood disease.”
Unlike soldiers, children in the inner city never leave the combat zone. They often experience trauma, repeatedly.
“You could 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 in our biology if we don’t
survive the walk home,” said Jeff Duncan-Andrade, Ph.D. of San Francisco
In Oakland, about two thirds of the murders last year were actually clustered in East Oakland, 59 people killed.
Teachers and administrators who graduated from Fremont High School in
East Oakland and have gone back to work there spoke with KPIX 5.
“These cards that (students) are suddenly wearing around their neck
that say ‘Rest in peace.’ You have some kids that are walking around
with six of them. Laminated cards that are tributes to their slain
friends,” said teacher Jasmene Miranda.
Jaliza Collins, also a teacher at Fremont, said, “It’s depression,
it’s stress, it’s withdrawal, it’s denial. It’s so many things that is
encompassed and embodied in them. And when somebody pushes that one
button where it can be like, ‘please go have a seat,’ and that can be
the one thing that just sets them off.”
In 2013, there were 47 recorded lockdowns in Oakland public schools – again, almost all in East and West Oakland.
Students at Fremont High showed where one classmate was shot.
“If someone got shot that they knew or that they cared about…they’re
going to be numb,” one student said. “If someone else in their family
got shot and killed they will be sad, they will be isolated because I
have been through that.”
Gun violence is only one of the traumas or stressors in concentrated areas of deep poverty.
“Its kids are unsafe, they’re not well fed,” Duncan-Andrade said.
“And when you start stacking those kids of stressors on top of each
other, that’s when you get these kinds of negative health outcomes that
seriously disrupt school performance.”
Editor’s Note: This story is part of the Equity Reporting Project, which is a yearlong effort.