Keeping Children Safe
Every parent and grandparent worries about the health and safety of their children. Past surveys reflected parents’ desire for their children to grow up to be happy or financially secure. But more and more caregivers hope their children stay safe during their school, and especially teen years.
Safety takes many forms. Obviously, physical safety is a concern, especially with the rash of gun violence and bullying. These have become more serious than car crashes. As auto safety measure have increased dramatically for kids, the opposite has happened with guns. Flooding legal and illegal markets, firearms are everywhere. Accidents in home, random shots in neighborhoods and gang violence have become all too common. Federal common sense gun control measures are absent and state legislatures have made gun ownership and possession easier than a cell phone.
Children’s mental health is just beginning to get some attention as youth are flooding emergency rooms with severe problem behaviors that parents are unable to handle. Lack of affordable mental health programs make most responses temporary, with many issues resulting in self or others’ harm. Caregivers own personal and financial problems may be partly to blame, but also the breakdown of the family unit, with drugs and alcohol issues, are frequent for both parents and kids. Again, drugs are so much easier to obtain than drug and alcohol treatment programs, so problems just compound.
The newest threat to child safety lies in social media. Kids were early on taught not to talk to strangers and avoid being alone in some places. Now many spend hours alone in their rooms chatting with predators unknown, facing peer pressure or harassment, or viewing wildly inappropriate sites. Even so called safe sites are often filled with stunts and activities that endanger those who try to imitate them or reflect an ideal that shatters any teen’s self concept. And here too, caregivers struggle to balance the need for constant contact with their children and access to a crazy world outside of their control.
What can be done? Nothing, until decision makers at the local, state and federal level make child safety as important an issue as reelection. Taking on the gun lobby, social media giants and legislators who refuse to adequately fund child care and early education, food programs and public schools is the huge task for those who really care about children’s safety. Each of us have to think how we can show we care.