Mexican Kids Who've Seen Hell Find Little Help in US

Border schools ill-prepared to deal with their trauma
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2011 12:50 PM CDT
In this March 25, 2010 photo, school children walk to board a school bus in the border town of Fort Hancock, Texas.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)

(Newser) – Sift past story after story about the bodies piling up in Mexico and you'll find another tragedy: the trauma the country's violence-weary kids are struggling to cope with—which is seeping its way into ill-prepared US schools. NPR takes a look at a high school in El Paso, one of a number of border schools that are seeing an influx of Mexican students who aren't necessarily getting the help they need. "I have students whose mothers have been decapitated," says Susan Crews, the head counselor for the city's school district.

Another eighth-grader saw "three heads on sticks along the path" when he was visiting family in Juarez, she continues, adding that in her 43 years as a counselor she's never heard such horrific stories. "My experience has been atrocious," she says. As for the eighth-grader, "He was not able to control his bladder; he was not sleeping at night." And while some El Paso counselors have received PTSD training to help the kids of military families stationed the city's Fort Bliss, Crews thinks the training isn't specific enough to these kids' experience. "If you don't deal with trauma right away, it's going to come back. You're going to have children repeating the violence that they've seen."

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