(radio sounds) Narrator:
Nightmares, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, depression,
sudden rages, sudden sadness, mood swings… (distant artillery fire,
gunshots) Once the public knew little about post-traumatic
stress disorder. It was seeing what happened
to our soldiers, in the terrible trauma of war and the anguish that
followed them home, disrupting their physical
and mental health and affecting loved ones that brought the term
PTSD to public awareness. But we know now
it’s not just our soldiers whose lives can be overwhelmed
by the symptoms of PTSD. Young people living
in impoverished, urban neighborhoods
across America too-often suffer through
similar stressors. Man:
The first time I got shot, I thought I was going
to really, really die. Woman:
And I looked, and it was actually a body in the street,
and for my kids to see that… Boy:
It happened so fast… They messed up my whole life. Young Woman:
I have, like, high anxiety, and I just feel paranoid
all the time. Man:
For the young people in the inner city we actually see
the full-blown syndrome of post-traumatic stress
disorder or PTSD, every bit the same syndrome
that we see in returning combat veterans from places like Iraq
and Afghanistan. Narrator:
Children and young people growing up in pockets
of concentrated poverty can often be exposed
to violence… (gunshots) …personal conflict, extreme
anxiety, and other adversities as disturbing as some war zones. Rich:
If we believe that behaviors are shaped
out of experience and we know that’s how
the brain develops then we should expect
that people will behave based on their experiences,
and they sometimes are reacting because those experiences
were traumatic. If these young people
have been harmed or injured by the stress in their lives, then what they really
need is healing. We have two choices. We can ask ourselves,
“What’s wrong with this person?” or we can ask,
“What happened to this person?”