Almost 18 years ago the 9/11 terrorist attack occurred changing our lives forever. This attack changed our Country and the world our children grow up in. Anyone who is over 30 years old grew up in a world where there were good times and then there were bad times. So people over 30 years old learned that life has ups and downs. However, for anyone born in the year 2000 or later, never had this experience of the world. They grew up with warnings about potential terrorist attacks and 20 years of mass shootings mainly at schools. They have lived in a world of chaos.
The majority of people who are under 30 years old have grown up in a world where there has been one tragedy after another. People in this generation have experienced the tragedy of 9/11 attacks, the wars in Iran and Afghanistan, and hearing nightly on the news about terrorist attacks and terrorist threats.
In addition to hearing about terrorist attacks around the world children growing up in the current generation have also had to deal with mass shootings at schools, and shopping centers over the past twenty years. No one who is over 30 years old had to deal with mass school shootings throughout the country, while they were growing up. Furthermore in addition to the violence that the current generation has had to endure they have also had to deal with the uncertain financial situation of our country. Children in this generation have heard about the possibility of the economy collapsing and in addition many children in this generation have experienced their parents losing their jobs and as a result also losing their homes. As a result, children growing up today are facing the facts they may never own a home and financially they may not do as well as their parents.
What has this done to our children? From my experience as a psychotherapist who works with children and teens, I have seen a devastating impact on children growing up today. Many of the children I work with carry knives with them. They tell me they need the knives for protection. Many of the kids I treat have told me, they don’t know if they will live to be 30 because of today’s violence. When they are faced with 3 mass shootings in less than one week and one of those shootings occurred at the Gilory Garlic Festival, you can start to understand why they may be thinking this way.
I have also seen an increase in depression and anxiety. With the violence children experience at school and when their family cannot afford housing or food, they see no hope for a future. Yes in the United States, there are many children who are homeless and hungry. In fact, the rate of homelessness and hunger for children is higher in the United States than some third world countries.
As a result, many children and teenagers are looking for an escape and they are finding unhealthy ways to escape. The suicide rate in our country has increased every year. It is now the second leading cause of death for children in the United States. Children as young as 8 years old are committing suicide. In addition to suicide, children and teenagers are turning to drugs. We are not talking about marijuana, we are talking about meth, crack and heroin and new drugs such as Pink and Coco. If you go on to any middle school campus in the United States today, you can find whatever drug you want. As drug use has increased so have the number of children overdosing on drugs. In the United States, approximately 125 kids overdose on drugs every day and the number is climbing.
In addition to these factors, gangs and crime among teenagers are on the rise. Why are they on the rise? The teens believe their fellow gang members will help protect them if someone tries to jump them. Since they have no faith in the government or the economy, the only way to get what you need is to steal it. According to the way many teens are starting to think. They see no problem in what they are doing because they feel they are just living by the rules that the adults have established.
This is no way for a child to grow up. They should not have to be afraid of being killed because of their religion, race or sexual orientation. The feelings that I have described above cross all lines in our society. I have heard these feelings from white teens, African-American teens, Hispanic teens etc. I have also heard these feelings from teenagers whose families are very well to do and those that are homeless.
I am not only hear teenagers expressing their concerns in my office, we are now seeing teenagers expressing their concerns publicly. Since the shooting in Parkland, Florida, teenagers have been appearing on television news shows and holding rallies demanding that our Government change gun laws so they may feel safer going to school. With the 3 mass shootings in less than a week, teenagers are asking again for sane gun laws, so they can go to school and not be afraid of being killed. However, teenagers are seeing the Government doing nothing and playing politics. When teenagers in our country are banning together to tell us how afraid they are about today’s world, we need to listen.
Dr. Michael Rubino is an expert at treating teenagers and children. He has been treating teens and children for over 20 years for more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or follow him on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.