Doctors say ‘hood disease’ threatens inner-city youth

The Root
–Lynette Holloway

The CDC says about 30 percent of inner-city children are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, which has also become known as “hood disease.”

Editor’s note: The Root has not been able to independently confirm that any researchers coined the term “hood disease.” The CBS station in San Francisco that originally reported this story has removed references to hood disease from its online report. It has been widely reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others that a trauma considered PTSD occurs in residents of violence-prone neighborhoods, but this new terminology has not been verified.

Large numbers of inner-city youths suffer from a condition known as “hood disease,” a form of post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from persistent exposure to trauma, according to research cited by KPIX 5.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 30 percent of U.S. inner-city youths are affected by the disorder, which makes it difficult for them to learn, the news site says. Those who exhibit the disorder often live in virtual war zones, the CDC report says.

Doctors at Harvard recently coined the name “hood disease,” a term for a more complex form of PTSD, the news site reports. And since the youths rarely escape their communities—unlike soldiers who eventually leave a war zone—they are repeatedly exposed to trauma.

“You could take anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of PTSD, and the things that we are currently emphasizing in school will fall off their radar,” San Francisco State University associate professor Jeff Duncan-Andrade told KPIX 5. “Because, frankly, [schoolwork] does not matter in our biology if we don’t survive the walk home.”

Gun violence represents just part of the problem.

“It’s kids who’re unsafe, they’re not well fed,” Duncan-Andrade told the news site. “And when you start stacking those kinds of stressors on top of each other, that’s when you get these kinds of negative health outcomes that seriously disrupt school performance.”

In Oakland, Calif., about two-thirds of murders last year were clustered in East Oakland, where 59 people were killed, the station’s report says. Some students at Fremont High School in East Oakland wear laminated “Rest in peace” cards hung on lanyards around their necks, a sign mourning for slain friends.

“You have some kids that are walking around with six of them,” Fremont teacher Jasmene Miranda told KPIX 5.


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