The Dangers Our Kids Face

I remember worrying every minute my son was in preschool and out of my sight.  It got a little better in kindergarden, after the first terrifying time he went on the bus (don't ask about the time he missed the bus, when it came and he wasn't on it). 

In first and second grades, the worrying grew a little less.  I began to trust the teachers and that he would survive.  Then middle school came and even though I knew he could take care of himself now, I still worried

But the worst is yet to come, according to Charles Blow of The New York Times.

Charles Blow, who I adore, wrote an op-ed today about the dangers ahead -- and right in front of us -- for our teenagers.

He writes that, in a hypothetical class of 100 high school seniors:

  • 71 will have experienced physical assault
  • 28 will have been "victimized" sexually (and 10, raped) 
  • 32 have experienced "child maltreatment"
  • 27 were in a physical fight, and
  • 16 carried a weapon in the last year
If this isn't overwhelming enough, he continues on that:

  • 64 have had sexual intercourse
  • 48 are sexually active
  • 27 used a condom
  • 12 were on birth control pills
  • 21 had a sexually transmitted infection in the past year
  • 3-4 of the women have been or are pregnant
  • 1 had an abortion
Now, when he says "hypothetical," he doesn't mean imaginary, which at first threw me off, too.  What he means is that in any group of high school seniors, roughly this is the percentage that breaks down.

But he's still not done.

  • 39 have been bullied, physically or emotionally
  • 29 felt "sad and hopeless"continually for at least two weeks during the year
  • 14 thought seriously about attempting suicide (14!!!), and
  • 6 went through with the attempt
Does it get any scarier than that?

His point is not to sensationalize youth, and all the vulnerabilities they face -- or maybe, it is.  He says we've done a really poor job of prioritizing what our kids need, like paid family leave and early childhood education (which one party has cut shamefully, in its "starve the beast" policy -- you know, pay for tax cuts for the rich on the backs of programs for the poor); we expose our kids to to a culture "soaked with violence," and don't allow many of them to have access to safe sex information and options.

These are our future, people, he is saying (and so am I).  When are we going to get serious about making them as important as garden tubs (what are they, anyway?), the government listening in on our phone calls, and arms to Syria?

Sadly, if the past is any predictor, not any time soon.

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