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Kids These Days

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Kids These Days

In 1882, when KidsPeace was born, the primary goal was providing shelter and care to children orphaned by a smallpox epidemic. Now, KidsPeace has grown and evolved to meet increasingly complex developmental, emotional and behavioral issues unlike our predecessors ever imagined. Each generation of children at KidsPeace has experienced problems that reflect society, health care, the economy, the political atmosphere, the environment and the state of the family.

Institutionalization has given way to community care; neonatology saves the lives of babies who would never have survived a decade ago; children have electronic access to all the information in the world – and to a world of dangers; medicine has exploded with prescriptions that can make life more tolerable but also have the potential for great abuse; and, in the opinion of many, the violence that permeates the media is having a profound influence on the behavior and values of our youth. Are the issues kids are facing that much more complicated today, or are we just better at diagnosing and assigning labels? It would appear that the answer to both questions is yes.

For a variety of physical and environmental reasons, kids today are presenting with serious mental and behavioral health symptoms that often require intense, long-term treatment. Children suffer from an array of pervasive developmental delays, ADHD, depression, Autism Spectrum Disorders, anxiety, oppositional/defiant disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, severe anger, eating disorders, learning disorders, bipolarism, schizophrenia, Savant syndrome, addictions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a variety of other serious issues. Many of our children are neglected, sexually and physically abused and abusive, suicidal, anti-social, unwanted, self-harming, habitually truant, frequent users of drugs or alcohol, in constant trouble with the law, gang members, sexually active, involved in extremely risky and /or violent behavior and seemingly unaware of socially acceptable behavior.

Keeping Up
Fortunately, private organizations like KidsPeace, government agencies, mental health professionals, educators, counselors and others are devoting increasingly greater efforts to:

• Improve diagnostic techniques

• Develop individualized, appropriate treatment modalities

• Ensure that follow-up services exist in the community to help kids continue to heal after initial treatment

• Work in the community to reduce risks and offer alternatives to harmful behaviors

• Educate kids about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, gangs and unprotected sexual activity

• Provide educational programs to meet the needs of all children

• Offer school-based testing, counseling, special needs classes and after-school programs to give children alternative recreational opportunities

• Make Internet sites accountable for the protection of children and teens who post information

• Inform parents about the risks their children face every day

• Report to authorities if children show symptoms of abuse or neglect

• Recognize the signs of suicide ideation and intervene if a
child appears to be at risk

• Understand that trauma can cause serious psychological damage that may present itself in many ways

• Provide safe places where youth can turn for help like TeenCentral.Net

• Find safe, loving foster homes for children who are unable to thrive in their family homes

• Make the safety and care of children everywhere a top priority of the nation and the world.

Great strides are being made every day in finding causes of and designing treatment for developmental disorders, emotional and behavior issues, learning disabilities and mental health problems.

And Yet …
Kids are still kids, and they are resilient and yearn to have the opportunity to grow and learn and fit in and be loved. Their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter have grown to include acceptance, safety from predators, mentors to fill in when parents are absent or unable to guide them, safe havens, mental and physical health education and support from the media and society to face the challenges of growing up in the 21st Century.

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