The 18-year-old brother of Terra Turner 11, was shot and killed on a busy San Francisco street last last summer. As the months passed in sixth grade, her grades slipped and her temper often flared. At her school, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, the principal and staff see the signs and symptoms of trauma-related stress in many of their students: the hostile outbursts, the sliding grades, the poor test scores, or the inability to pay attention.
They are among the countless children in San Francisco’s toughest neighborhoods who experience murder, violence, and trauma – an often unavoidable consequence of living in an urban war zone. The violence, layers of it overlapping year after year, can eventually take up residence in the children’s minds. Like combat veterans, they develop post-traumatic stress disorder – the soldier’s sickness. As many as one-third of children living in our country’s violent urban neighborhoods have PTSD, says recent research and the country’s top child trauma experts – nearly twice the rate reported for troops returning from war zones in Iraq.