Last week our daughters were playing outside, as they often do. We're lucky to live on a pretty quiet cul-de-sac surrounded by a bunch of neighbors who know each other and enjoy spending time outdoors chatting and being together. There are quite a few kids in the neighborhood as well.
As we were getting dinner ready one daughter rushed in to tell us that there were police cars outside. We didn't think too much about it until we heard more information from the girls. Apparently the police officers were talking to all the kids. We went to investigate.
It turns out that a kid (probably 14 years old or so) had called the police because another kid's parents had screamed at him. I don't have the details from anyone who saw the incident so I can't really speak to details.
It lasted about 15 minutes and then things returned to normal.
Except for the fact that my daughters gained a lot of knowledge in that short time. They learned about what it means to be threatened (the boy was telling the police he felt threatened). They learned about some curse words. They learned what it means to interact with police officers.
They got a lot of streetwise knowledge in a really short time. They are nine and five. I didn't feel a great need for them to have that knowledge yet.
Recognizing that got me thinking about the many kids who live in neighborhoods where this sort of incident, a visit from the police, threats, curses, happen frequently. What does having knowledge of that world, of those types of behaviors mean for young children? When that is normal how does that impact their learning, their relationships, their life skills?
It's not knowledge of these things that's makes a difference (I think). It's feeling threatened. Have you read anything about how urban youth often suffer post-traumatic stress?
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