We all know that if you live in certain neighborhoods you can get killed just walking down the street or sometimes sitting in your own home.
We all know about the so called ‘hood,’ with the stray bullets, the crossfire, the gangs, the dealers, the pushers, the street life and on and on.
Now living in the hood is dangerous for mental health and well-being so much so that doctors have come up with a name for it; “hood disease.”
The Centers for Disease Control says it mostly affects young people, who on a daily basis, face stress and trauma in their own neighborhoods akin to a war zone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study estimates that “nearly 30 percent of U.S. inner-city youths are affected by the disorder, which makes it difficult for them to learn.”
Hood Disease, according to the study, is a more complex form of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, but worse.
Worse because soldiers in warzones eventually leave the war zone while youth in urban warzones rarely escape their own communities.
They are repeatedly exposed to stress for all of their youth and into adulthood.
Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade of San Francisco University told CNN Los Angeles affiliate KPIX that, “You could take anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of PTSD, and the things we are currently emphasizing in school will fall off their radar. Because frankly it does not matter in our biology if we don’t survive the walk home.”
Obviously what he is saying is if you worry about dying on your way home from school, reading, writing and arithmetic don’t really matter much in the moment.
If you’re facing the stress of being hungry and the prospect of not eating once you get home, biology or chemistry don’t really matter in the moment.
So, what’s the solution?
The obvious one is to get out of the hood.
But, that’s not as easy as just talking about it, especially when the parents are probably suffering from hood disease as well, and their parents before them, and their parents before them.
For many it’s a lack of awareness that life can be different.
As one of my colleagues said to me today as I was writing this story, “Don I believe it. I grew up in the hood. And once I got out I was surprised that people lived another way.”
Another way to reduce hood disease is to reduce the amount of violent crime in the hood, which, given the dramatic fall in homicides and other violent crimes in many cities, is actually happening, though clearly not fast enough.
And the other solution is of course is for those who got out, like my colleague, to help those they left behind.
And for those of us who were never there to help as well because in the case of hood disease it takes more than just a village.
It takes a whole country.