'Hood Disease' Dissed as Description of Complex PTSD in Urban Kids

Thursday, 22 May 2014 10:48 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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The term "hood disease" has come under fire after a CBS affiliate in Oakland, California, used it during a nightly news story about PTSD in kids living in poverty-stricken locales.

On Tuesday, Ebony magazine spoke with the reporter who broke the story, KPIX’s Wendy Tokuda, who said she regretted using the term, a colloquialism not used by Harvard doctors or the Center for Disease Control in their descriptions of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"I so regret using the term 'Hood Disease' which is not a term either the CDC uses or Harvard," Tokuda wrote in an email. "That came from a resident in Oakland, and we seized on it. It is my fault."

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Psychotherapist and HLN contributor Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry acknowledged that PTSD among those living in poverty is indeed a real problem and one worth addressing, but is wary of Tokuda's language.

"I’m highly offended by the term 'hood disease,' as it lends itself akin to the term 'ebonics,'" Davis told HLN. "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."

Health researchers at the CDC estimate that complex PTSD affects 30 percent of inner-city youth, causing "panic attacks, depression, suicidal thought and feelings, drug abuse, feelings of being estranged and isolated, and not being able to complete daily tasks."

Amani Nuru-Jeter, an associate professor at the University of California, Berkley’s School of Public Health just north of Oakland told Ebony the term "hood disease" could be used to stigmatize.

"To call it ‘Hood Disease’ suggests that there’s something specific about living in the hood — and have we even defined what that means?" she asked. "What about other areas that are predominantly populated by low-income Whites? I think there’s a spin on the idea. It veers toward blaming the victim."

Earlier this year, stories about a video posted to Facebook showing a young black boy in a diaper being instructed by relatives to use foul language and discuss things too mature for him sparked outrage when the Omaha Police Officers Association used it to illustrate what they called the "thug cycle" that persists in low-income communities. People were upset by the video itself, as well as the term "thug cycle" which many said was a racially loaded term.



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