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Wake Up Call and Statistics

What’s happening with our kids?

It’s time to take a hard look at the issues facing our young people today and to recognize that our youth are feeling the stress of life more than the adults around them can understand.

In fact, schools have become center stage for gun violence. Every Town for Gun Safety is an organization that began to track the incidents that have occurred since 2013-2018, and their numbers are alarming. Each year, over 2,700 children and teens are shot and killed, and nearly 14,500 more are shot and injured. An estimated 3 million are exposed to shootings, and our kids and their teachers are now being prepared in emergency drills for what to do when their classrooms are under siege. It’s a trend difficult to face or comprehend.

Why is there so much violence? 

Some would say it is because our children are exposed to scenes of bombings, not only in war-torn Syria, but also in shopping malls and concert halls. These images can confuse and frighten kids; and similar to overly violent movies and video games, frequent viewing of news coverage of traumatic events can cause children to become aggressive, desensitized to violence, and less empathetic toward others. 

But gun violence is just the tip of the iceberg.

The statistics on bullying alone are mind-boggling. Our children are hurting each other. Every day. At schools. All over the country. In fact, one out of every five students reports being bullied, and it’s clear that not all of the children are reporting. While school-based bullying prevention programs seem to be helping, too many children are still suffering at the hands of other children who verbally and physically assault them because of their looks, body shape, and race. 

Equally upsetting are the statistics of teen substance abuse. Is it boredom? Or is it stress? A feeling of “meaninglessness”? While some teens abuse medicine to party and get high, many are using medicine to manage stress or regulate their lives. Research shows some are abusing prescription stimulants to provide additional energy and increase their ability to focus when they’re studying or taking tests. Many young people are abusing pain relievers, tranquilizers, and over-the-counter cough medicine to cope with academic, social, or emotional stress. Most disturbing, two-thirds of teens who report abuse of prescription pain relievers are getting them from friends, family, and acquaintances.

The wild reality here is that teens don’t see this behavior as risky. They see their parents taking medicine—and they believe that since medicine is created and tested in a scientific environment, it is therefore safer to use than street drugs, although studies are now showing that nearly 80% of people who inject heroin start by abusing prescription drugs. 

And then there are the suicide statistics. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 – 24, and the second leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12 – 18. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease––combined. In fact, each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7 – 12. 

If our children are our future, these statistics should scare the hell out of us.

 

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