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Wounded Places

Confronting Childhood PTSD in America's Shell-Shocked Cities

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Caheri Gutíerrez, Antonio Carter and Javier Arango are among the remarkable young people wrestling with hyper-vigilance, sudden rages, nightmares, inability to trust and difficulty concentrating in school.

Their symptoms look a lot like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But they are not combat vets and for them there is no ‘post’.

They live in Oakland and Philadelphia, two cities whose long history of disinvestment and structural racism has ravaged entire neighborhoods and exposed children and families to multiple adversities and traumatic experiences – not just violence, but fear, poverty, domestic instability and a sense of futurelessness.

Stanford physician and researcher Victor Carrion explains, “If we are crossing the street and we see that a truck is coming at us, we can manage that situation, get scared, jump and move quickly. Unfortunately, many children in our society feel like a truck is coming at them all day long, for more days than not, and this really takes a toll.”

Many of these children are almost automatically characterized as defiant or ‘acting out.’ Teachers, police, the media, and even social workers too often peg them as bad or impaired kids, not injured kids in need of healing. Five-year-olds are suspended from school.

But in Oakland, youth leaders like Caheri and Javier are now counseling other young people how to ‘own’ their trauma. We also meet a remarkable group of peer counselors, doctors, and community organizers blazing a new model of trauma-informed care. Rather than ask, “What’s wrong with you?” they ask, “What happened to you?” and "How can we help you heal?" This simple shift can be transformative—for those suffering from trauma and toxic stress, for neighborhoods and even the providers themselves.

Reports + Articles


Javier Arango

Youth Engagement Specialist, Catholic Charities of East Bay

Antonio Carter and Antonio Carter, Jr.

Father and son in Oakland

Caheri Gutiérrez

Violence Prevention Educator & Case Manager, Youth Alive!

Christine Henry and sons

Family in Oakland

The Johnson Family (Rochelle Owens, Kenneth Johnson, Kenny Ray & Keshad)

Family in Oakland

Aswad Aarif

Restorative Practices Care Coordinator, Catholic Charities of the East Bay

Sandra Bloom

Associate Professor, Drexel University School of Public Health

James Burgess


Millie Burns

Deputy Chief of Programs, Catholic Charities of the East Bay

Victor Carrion

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine

Theodore Corbin

Assistant Professor, Drexel University College of Medicine & School of Public Health; Medical Director, Healing Hurt People Program

Aisha Coulson-Walters

Social Worker, 11th Street Family Health Services

Jefrey Estevez (c/o Maria Rodriguez)


Leo Guzman


Maria D. McColgan

Medical Director, Child Protection Program, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Ricardo Peña

Clinical Case Manager, Catholic Charities of the East Bay

Harold Reed

Director, Boys & Girls Club of Wilson Park, Philadelphia, PA

John Rich

Professor, Drexel University School of Public Health; Director, Center for Non-Violence and Social Justice

Olis Simmons

President & CEO, Youth UpRising

Daniel Taylor

Director, Community and Child Advocacy, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Roy Wade, Jr.

Department of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia




Llewellyn Smith

Executive Producers

Larry Adelman and Christine Herbes-Sommers

Supervising Producer

Wendy Riseborough

Associate Producer

Sabrina Avilés


Mark Dugas

Director of Research

Annie Stopford, PhD


Alejandra Jiménez Quiroga


Llewellyn Smith

Directors of Photography

Vicente Franco, Nadia Hallgren and Andy Obeck

Additional Photography

Darren Colston, Miguel Creus and Javier Ochoa

Children & Youth Photography

Lori DeSantis


Ray Day, Juan Ignacio Nuevo, Jeremy Stone and Yvan Iturriaga

Production Assistants

Darren Colston, Nick Darby and Javier Ochoa


Claudia Mazariegos and James Durga



Motion Graphics

Michael Frederick

Sound Mix

Modulus Studios


Newfangled Films

Archival Research

Sabrina Avilés and Claudia Mazariegos

Series Associate Producer and Director of Public Engagement

Rachel Poulain

Series Creator and Executive Producer

Larry Adelman



  • Akio Evans
  • Alamy
  • AP Images
  • Corbis
  • D. Ross Cameron
  • Ernest Cole Family Trust
  • Eva Kolenko Photography
  • Getty Images
  • Hahnemann University Hospital
  • Joe Kaczmarek
  • Los Angeles Times/Hartford Courant
  • Pond5
  • Stephen Matera
  • T3 Media
  • Thomson Reuters
  • United Nations Photo Library
  • U.S. Department of Defense


  • Aswad Aarif
  • Boys and Girls Club of Wilson Park
  • Millie Burns
  • Catholic Charities of the East Bay
  • Aisha Coulson-Walters
  • Martha Davis
  • Giana Demedio
  • Ilena DiToro
  • Drexel University School of Public Health
  • Jesus El
  • Eleventh Street Family Health Services
  • Executive Assistant US Attorney Robert Reed
  • Patricia Gerrity
  • Ishmael Goodwin
  • Leo Guzman
  • Hahnemann University Hospital
  • Patricia Hartman
  • Healing the Hurt
  • Cindy Hill-Ford
  • Hyde Square Task Force
  • Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción
  • Institute for Safe Families
  • Malik Jackson
  • Renee Boynton Jarrett
  • Anne Marks
  • Michelle Mucellin, US Attorney’s Office
  • Richard Ochab
  • Ricardo Peña
  • Marquise Price
  • Ryse Center
  • Olis Simmons
  • Asim Smith
  • St. Christopher Hospital for Children, Philadelphia
  • Stoneleigh Foundation
  • US Attorney Zane D. Memeger
  • Nicole Wiggins
  • Youth Alive!
  • Youth Spirit Art Works
  • Youth UpRising
Discussion Guide (PDF) Transcript (PDF) Full Synopsis (PDF)