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Study: Mothers' stress levels increase after 2015 unrest

Parents worried over kids's safety
Posted at 11:35 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2018-12-31 15:27:57-05

A University of Maryland study found the stress levels on mothers, especially of young children living in certain areas of Baltimore, have increased since the unrest of 2015 after Freddie Gray's death. 

"It's a lot of validity to it because we live in it, we live in it every day. It doesn't matter the economics of a person, where they live we live in it as mothers," West Baltimore mother Hope Crosby said.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health. The authors say it's unique because they had data before, during, and after the unrest. Dr. Maureen Black, lead study author, says mothers of very young children experience disruption in their daily routine. 

"These are disruptions in sleeping and shopping and eating and associated with that are depressive symptoms," Black said.

As ABC2 uncovered, the disruption that came along with the April 2015 unrest that plagued Baltimore also plagued mothers with children of all ages.

"Before the unrest I worried about my children. I happen to have five adult children, three of them are male.  Last year two of my nephews were killed so it's always a worry," Crosby said.

The study looked at stress levels in mothers living in affected neighborhoods specifically in six West Baltimore zip codes. It found the number of mothers affected before the unrest increased from 21 percent to 31 during the incident and spiked to 50 percent in August of 2015, four months after.

"When we have something like civil unrest the impact is far greater than the fires or the buildings that are destroyed were really destroying the fabric of our communities," said Black.

Shanika Cole said, "At one point in time growing up in any community, you could send your child to school alone, you could send your child to the store you could send your child next door to the neighbors house now you have to worry about the crime."

"I finding myself calling my sons telling me they have to call me and tell me where they are and who they're with, when they're pulling up in front of the house that's stressful for me," Crosby said.

The study also revealed a concept not lost on those living too close to the violence.

"Involving citizens in making their communities safer and in making more services in their community in preventing such things as housing insecurity and food insecurity and some of the inequities that exist in our communities, said Black.

The same inequities Black says will take a macro approach to improve.

"That's what's most stressful. It doesn't seem like there's going to be a time where it will be safe and that's concerning for any parent," Cold said. 

The study looked at about 1100 mothers between January 2014 and December 2015. It's part of the University of Maryland's ongoing Children's Health Watch Project.