Numerous research studies show there are some inner city children that may experience post traumatic stress disorder symptoms at rates comparable to veterans of war. Some of these youth are being immensely affected by traumatic experiences, which can cause haunting flashbacks, paranoia, emotional detachment, unwanted thoughts, and violent outbursts. When an inner city African-American youth experiences traumatic/stressful situations, & commits an illegal or violent act, their mental health & experiences are rarely emphasized. Inner city youth like Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis, a 13 year old sentenced as an adult for the murder of a man in 1999, do not receive professional mental health support. Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis grew up in the drug-infested & neglected ‘Bluff’ area of Atlanta. His only guardian was addicted to drugs, he was homeless by age 11, not enrolled in school, and experienced a plethora of traumatic events while trying to take care of himself. Yet, he remained invisible to most until his first arrest…and when he finally got a ‘home’ it was in a Georgia state prison with adults at the age of 13. Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis is still incarcerated, and there are still questionable inaccuracies in the case that do not support true justice for the victim or the accused.
If a young inner city black boy rob’s someone, he is often quickly deemed a thug or menace to society, but if his white counterpart commits a crime like a school shooting, then he is labeled as a troubled mentally ill youth that did not receive adequate help. Both boys may have experienced traumatic events, but only one gets sympathy or a diagnosis. Racism isn’t the only reason because there are older African Americans from previous generations who also look at these children as thugs with no hope as well. Neglected inner city children like Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis never receive mental health resources, help, or immense sympathy after all of the traumatizing events they’ve experienced. Of course, we cannot always give a PTSD diagnosis to every person who commits a crime with their own free will. However, it is wrong and dangerous to just help certain groups of victims while neglecting others.
There is a substantial amount of youth/children that are mentally wounded, neglected, suffering from un-diagnosed PTSD, and by the time many people care to pay attention to what they are going through…the damage has been permanently embedded. These children have never fought in Iraq, the Vietnam, or Afghanistan…but they are experiencing PTSD like some war veterans. They’re often quietly traumatized and mentally affected by what they’ve experienced, but do not receive enough genuine support to help them. Instead they are often conditioned or forced to think it is enough to just ‘stay strong’, ‘keep their heads up’, try to rise above their situation, and ‘move on’ with life while still struggling mentally.
Here are a list of good organizations that support and focuses on the mental health of youth/children:
The Annie E. Casey Foundation