A disturbing new Los Angeles survey of 73 middle schools and their 28,000 students suggests up to 90% of the children in those schools have been exposed to community violence.
The March 3, 2005 meeting of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) revealed the results during their annual meeting in Alexandria, Virginia.
The report goes on to explain that children who have been exposed to city violence before they reach the 6th grade have much higher rates of suspensions, absenteeism and expulsions. When those children are actually in class they do not perform well academically.
Here is more information from the report:
One-in-four American children have a significant traumatic experience by age 16. Many children suffer multiple and repeated traumas. A child exposed to a traumatic event is at risk of developing traumatic stress. Traumatic stress can seriously delay development of their brains and bodies. It can lead to depression, substance abuse, other mental health problems, acting out, educational impairment, as well as future health and employment problems.
Children who are not safe in their forming environments become adults who wound the world in the way they were wounded: If you control the child’s mind you own the adult body.
We must work to find safe passage for these children and we must discover ways to protect them from violent episodes that mark them, and us, forever to the grave.