The Internet is in an uproar over a viral story out of Oakland, California, from CNN affiliate KPIX about so-called "Hood Disease" and its implications that some inner-city children may be suffering from the same type of illness commonly associated with war veterans.
An unofficial term in the vein of "Affluenza," "Hood Disease" has ricocheted across the Web in blogs and social media sites attached to anecdotes describing life in urban areas as being comparable to what you'd find in war zones across the world, such as those in Afghanistan or Iraq. Unlike "Affluenza" though, the term "Hood Disease" doesn't appear to have originated from a source, such as a doctor, cited in the piece. And there appear to be no statistics from entities like the CDC or Harvard that make use of the term.
The KPIX news anchor who used the term told Ebony magazine on Tuesday that it was a mistake. "I so regret using the term 'Hood Disease' which is not a term either the CDC uses or Harvard," said KPIX's Wendy Tokuda.
That’s not to say that the underlying issue the article attempts to bring to the forefront -- post-traumatic stress disorder in children -- isn’t real.
Psychotherapist and HLN contributor Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry says PTSD in kids is indeed very real, but the term “hood disease” is not helpful in addressing a problem affecting many young people.
“I’m highly offended by the term ‘hood disease,’ as it lends itself akin to the term ‘ebonics,’" Davis says. "Plenty of people who live in or outside 'the hood' will experience forms of trauma and PTSD based on their environment and rather than focusing on their demographic locale, we as providers should be focused on the symptoms that present and how to help people overcome them."
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention factsheet lists a range of symptoms associated with PTSD, from “panic attacks, depression, suicidal thought and feelings, drug abuse, feelings of being estranged and isolated, and not being able to complete daily tasks.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, young sufferers of PTSD also “may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge.”
Henry says that although these symptoms are not specific to any demographic, they may be manifest in specific ways in the inner city.
“In inner cities, children may be more likely to experience or be exposed to violent activity and crimes causing increased anxiety, stress and mental anguish and discomfort,” she says. “That coupled with a lowered expectation of security, a belief that law enforcement is the enemy and that the only way to beget violence is with violence, tends to reinforce and exacerbate those symptoms.”