Arts & Entertainment

PTSD’s prevalence among inner city youth

Thousands of inner city youth suffer in silence

Jayla Harris  

city skyline

Photo of Wilmington, DE skyline taken by 


There is no secret of the violence that takes place in the inner parts of cities across America. The topic is addressed through many artists’ music and even by the police; however, there is never any addressing the real issue at hand; and, that is, trauma being a significant factor, when it comes to violence continuing to sweep across these areas.

A lot of times government officials, both on a state and federal levels decide to deal with the issue of inner city violence with jail time. Thus, causing many youth to have a legal record, and in most cases, receiving adult charges before they are even legally an adult.

Financial insecurity

A criminal record then adds to the violence of these neighborhoods, because then you position these youth to lose their opportunity to create a better future for themselves. A lot of  inner city neighborhoods (Chicago, D.C., Maryland, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Wilmington, DE, Atlanta, etc) are low income, so a lot of their goals are to make money to provide basic needs for their families.

Financial insecurity can lead to depression and anxiety in a household and, these children act out. Their parents suffer from this also, as they are supposed to be the caretakers, and they may turn to drug or alcohol abuse on a consumer end or supplier end. Substance abuse of any kind is proven to be toxic and unhealthy to an individual and neighborhood.

How could one assume that a child witnessing this, and developing desperate survival mechanism because of exposure to harsh environments, are not traumatized in a major way?

Evidence of PTSD

The US National Library Of Medicine, National Institutes of Health published an article in December of 2017 titled: Trauma and PTSD Symptoms Associate With Violence in Inner City Civilians. This article was about a study of 1,900 primary care patients in Atlanta, Georgia (an area also known to have high crime) at Grady Memorial hospital. The researchers collected data by taking a series of questionnaires that measured Child/Adulthood trauma, and a traumatic events inventory. PTSD was measured with a PTSD symptom scale, and violent behavior with a violent behaviors questionnaire. The article states that tragic events such as sudden death of a loved one, being the victims of violent crimes, such as assault and even witnessing or being exposed to a violent manner of death by others, are very common. So common that 1 in 6 of people from the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland have encountered a dead body who’s death was the result of violence.


Young males with gun

Photo of a group of males shown possessing a firearm pulled from

According to the study, researchers found that 40% of 90% of Atlanta’s inner city and low income demographic of the population has been traumatized with a lifelong PTSD prevalence, which is quite a large number. The analytics of their results, proved that those who suffered from Childhood and/or adulthood trauma reported more violent behavior, and the same pattern for severe trauma exposure.

The Solution

To effectively deal with violence in these communities, the root of the problem (PTSD) needs to be addressed and treated, before legal action is assumed as the go-to solution. The study above even supports this theory. This is not said to be the “cure” for crime in these areas; however, it would alleviate a lot of violence and mental health tearing down the inner-cities.


child and counselor

A photo of a child receiving counseling at the Lighthouse,

Artist Lil Herb speaks on Chicago violence 





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