Research indicates policing videos contribute to trauma symptoms among Black Americans

Glenna ReadResearch published in the Fall 2023 issue of Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology reveals that viewing violent police videos can lead to trouble sleeping, symptoms of PTSD, and heightened feelings of being on guard, particularly among Black Americans.

The study, conducted by OIBR Grant Development Program participant, Glenna L. Read, Associate Professor in Advertising and Public Relations, and her team aimed to investigate if Black Americans reported higher levels of negative experiences with police and increased exposure to violent police videos compared to white Americans. The survey involved 1240 participants and found that Black Americans reported more trauma symptoms and increased concerns about discrimination and stereotyping compared to their white counterparts exposed to similar videos.

The study highlights the impact of vicarious trauma through media on mental health, challenging the current DSM-5 classification that excludes such experiences from PTSD diagnoses. The research suggests a shift in worldview influenced by the belief that one could be stereotyped as a criminal, even though the events are experienced vicariously through media.

The research emphasizes the need for mental health practitioners to be aware of these effects, especially for their Black clients. This research is part of a larger collaboration investigating the impacts of body-worn cameras on perceptions of police-citizen interactions. They are currently testing an intervention to reduce this bias.

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