How would you react if you saw severed heads in your neighborhood?

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**Posted by Phineas

As violence in the cartel wars grows worse in Mexico, more and more Mexican families are sending their children to school in the United States. For school officials in border districts, this means having to deal more and more with children suffering severe mental and emotional trauma from the horrors they’ve witnessed. In the El Paso Independent School District, counselor Susan Crews describes having to deal with children who’ve been through Hell:

In border cities, it’s common for students from Mexico to go to school in the U.S. Some were born in the U.S. but raised in Mexico, and their families feel they’ll have better opportunities if they go to an American school.

But in recent years, motivation to cross the border has changed. Horrific drug-related violence in Mexico is forcing some families to flee, often in a hurry.

Susan Crews, lead counselor for the El Paso Independent School District, has seen what witnessing that violence can do to a child.

“I have students whose mothers have been decapitated,” Crews says. “I have a student in one of the middle schools — when he visited his family in Juarez there were three heads on sticks along the path were he goes.”

Crews is a grandmotherly figure who wears her hair in a bow-shaped bun atop her head. She says never in her 43 years as a counselor has she encountered such hellish stories.

“The counselor had contacted me because this eighth-grader was having a trauma reaction,” Crews says. “He was not able to control his bladder; he was not sleeping at night.”

Crews is the woman the district sends when there’s a major trauma at a school. In the past two years, she’s responded to the deaths of four students — all killed in Mexico.

“My experience has been atrocious,” she says. “I mean it’s just been overwhelming in my opinion.”

Perhaps a measure of the scale of the problem, Ft. Hood Ft. Bliss in El Paso has been offering training in counseling those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — the kind they offer to soldiers returning from a war.

And now children from Mexico.

EDIT: Fixed a careless mistake.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)