Rutgers University Study Finds Young People of Color Suffer PTSD from Viewing Publicized Police Killings of Unarmed Black People

A Rutgers University study shows most college students of color show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after watching social media videos of unarmed Black men being killed by police. The study was published in the Journal of Black Studies.

Researchers surveyed 134 college students, ages 18-24 (77% black or Latino) and examined the students’ engagements with police brutality videos, their reactions to police killings of unarmed Black males, and their own encounters with police and their perceptions about police brutality.

The results of the study showed 90% of students viewed several acts of police violence across various social media platforms. Many students reported finding the videos difficult to watch, while others expressed feelings of anger, frustration, and fear over the videos. The findings also revealed that 75% of students reported getting stopped by police, and almost 80% felt it was race-related.

Moreover, the researchers observed that 65% of students surveyed believe police violence is an issue in their hometowns, and 63% admitted getting coached by a family member on how to handle police encounters, a conversation commonly known in the Black community as “the talk.”


“In communities of color, we are already mistrustful of law enforcement, watching police kill individuals who look like us or members of our families is traumatic,” said Felicia Campbell, the primary lead author, and Lecturer at the Yale School of Medicine via a Rutgers press release.

“Higher education is no longer immune to Black Lives Matter’s message and can’t ignore police brutality that affects students of color,” said Pamela Valera, an Assistant Professor at Rutgers School of Public Health. “It impacts the mental health of these students.”