There was a little headline in a Boston newspaper this week about the continued collaboration between MSPP and two inner city High Schools, with suspension rates significantly higher than other Boston area schools. As part of the program, alternatives are offered to students such as opportunities to make up lost work, mental-health screenings, and individual attention and support. I was particularly curious to see MSPPs work with struggling students this week, after the tragic murder of a 24 year old Boston area teacher by one of her pupils. There is little doubt that additional mental health resources need to be placed in our schools, but perhaps nowhere is it as vital as in communities riddling with poverty and violence.
I’m a psychotherapist, with a focus in trauma. Most of my clients live in poverty, many are women, but I also treat veterans and a few families. The unconscionable murder of a 24 year old teacher is tragic, but unfortunately it’s also a microcosm of violence littering our inner city streets every day. I’m in awe of all my clients, their strength, courage, and perseverance never seizes to amaze me. But I also continue to be amazed by the violence happening only a few miles from some of the wealthiest areas in the country which we never hear about. For instance, one of my clients is a woman from Roxbury in her late twenties, she has witnessed countless shootings, including that of her 18 year old brother who was shot and killed in front of her eyes. My client dropped out of high school after she was repeatedly (sexually) assaulted at age 16, without access (or knowledge thereof) to resources except an alcoholic mother. I wish I could say that her experience growing up in the inner city was an isolated incident, but unfortunately she is just one of many. We are thankfully beginning to address the severe impact Post Traumatic Stress has in our military community, but I can safely say that the trauma experienced by most of my client’s rivals that of any veteran I’ve treated. Helping at risk students by providing mental health and other resources to keep them in schools is a great start, but we cannot stop there, we also need to understand the real depth and scope of the problem.