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Police say that on Wednesday a Northeast Philadelphia teenager survived a sophisticated, well-planned home invasion after being kidnapped at gunpoint. And while the victims in the surprisingly well-executed crime appear unscathed, they’ll likely suffer from oft-overlooked psychological damage for years to come.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that the 9th grader had rounded the corner to his house while walking home from school and two men were ready to pounce. After grabbing the boy, the fiends allegedly knocked on the front door of the house, and when the father expected to find his son on the doorstep, he found the robbers instead. At that point, police say the men entered the home at gunpoint with the teenage boy bound and held hostage in the nearby car.

“The scoundrels forced [the man] and his wife to the floor, binding their wrists with shoelaces and the wrapper from a loaf of Stroehmann bread,” the Daily News‘s Vinny Vella writes. “The thieves then grabbed a bundle of cash [estimated to be] about $30,000…and some jewelry.” The robbers executed their plan with ruthless efficiency, making off with the cash and the boy, before dropping him off at 23rd and Fairmount.

Of course this is not an isolated incident — nor is it the likely end of the trauma for those involved. The US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics says that, on average, 3.7 million burglaries occur in the nation each year. And, in two thirds of all burglaries, victims know their assailants or, as might seem relevant to the home invasion that occurred Wednesday, assailants know their victims.

Most burglaries, however, do not result in injury. The Bureau of Justice Statistics says that in cases where victims sustain injuries, only 9 percent are considered serious.

The psychological trauma, however, of such incidents has an impact on victims’ lives potentially forever. The National Institutes of Health says that 7.7 million American adults live with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. The NIH says that “PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm.” Yet, those living with PTSD need not necessarily be the victims of the physical danger or trauma: Witnesses to trauma may develop PTSD, too.

“The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed,” explains the NIH, but the incident may also “have happened to a loved one, or the person the may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones” or even “strangers.”

About The Author

Contributing columnist

Josh Kruger is an award-winning writer and commentator in Philadelphia. His @PhillyWeekly column, “The Uncomfortable Whole,” took the 2014 First Place Spotlight Award for weekly newspaper commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists and the 2014 Second Place Award for weekly newspaper commentary in the United States and Canada from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. He also blogs daily for PW on various topics including queer culture and news, mass transit, politics, crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, civil liberties, activism, media and everything else Philly.

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