Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Trouble With Kids is Adults

What on earth are we, in this country, doing to our children?
We feed them genetically engineered food. Have them drink milk with artificial growth hormones and prescribe them antipsychotic drugs.

Children have always been the most vulnerable in any society, but we, as a nation, have always been most vociferous about how we protect our children. So what has been happening lately?

We have one of the highest infant mortality rates of any of the developed nations (...the increase in infant mortality from 6.9 to 7.0 births per 1,000, a statistic that puts the U.S. 28th internationally in infant mortality, as well as the finding that 14 states have preterm birth rates that exceed 13%. That alarming statistic is likely associated with the fact that 12.6 million American women of child-bearing age are uninsured).

We have children here who are starving for lack of sufficient or proper dietary foods (, and on the other hand, we have the highest rate of obesity in children.(
We have one of the highest rates of youth incarceration (
We have children classified as mentally ill

Of those incarcerated or otherwise in the care of the state, the field is ripe for experimentation( by the pharmaceutical companies often times under the guise of agencies such as TeenScreen (//

Call me naive, call me stupid whatever you like, however, as a plain old observer of life, after lo these many years, I feel I have earned some stripes and can have my say on the situation. I know, I know, you are probably saying, here we go again, a fossil telling us what it was like "back in the day". Well maybe so but things were not as bad as they are today, there is no denying that.

Maybe I was more insulated as a child than kids are today. Granted, television opened up a whole new world to my generation, but we were not the first to grow up with the medium. Our values were pretty much set by the time TV became really popular, and certainly what was exposed on TV was not even on a par with what we could see in National Geographic.

Most of us came from two parent households, mom stayed home, dad worked. Rarely was there a single parent home, and the only one that comes to my mind, was a classmate whose father had been killed in the war. (WWII) Despite the fact that his home situation was out of the norm, for the day, he was a well adjusted kid. We did NOT get everything we wanted...even if our parents could afford it. We were taught responsibility for our actions...these were called consequences. Mental issues had names...SPOILED BRAT and TEENAGER.

Fast forward to today and my children and grandchildren's generation. Of all my teenage son's friends, his father and I are the only couple who are still married to the same partner. And of all those same friends, he is about the only one who is not on some form of medication, whether it be for mood swings, anxiety, learning problems, anger management, the list seems to be endless. Enter the Government in the guise of the Pharmaceutical companies.

Take children who have been left to their own devices (any sociologist will tell you...we have a generation of kids who have been left to raise themselves) mix in parents who cannot cope with themselves, much less their offspring, add the Dr. Feelgood's of this world and you have a recipe for disaster.

Many of these situations occur in the inner cities, and drug and alcohol addiction form the core of the problem. Even in the suburbs these factors play a role. Then you have the divorced parents who are so busy fighting each other the children are left by the wayside. Suddenly, many parents wake up, and realize they have a child who is out of control. The child is acting out trying to get someone's, anyone's attention! Aha! We have a solution! Medication! And the pharmaceutical companies have all the answers. You can continue on with your own agenda and have someone else manage the problem for you. After all, all those little pills you take work, don't they?

Anyone who would try and tell me that when, of grammar school age, they would be able to diagnose my child with eventual mental issues, they are the ones with the mental issues. But then these people are just schills for the pharmaceutical companies. If they can convince you, the suddenly concerned parent, or prey on the fear you as a new parent might feel as regards this new responsibility, then the bottom line is more money for big pharma. And they are helped along by a government who underwrites them.

Most of the psychotropic drugs that are prescribed for children are not meant for children. Anyone under the age of twenty one has a brain that is growing and changing, homogenizing. Once they make it through the teen years, most kids come out as relatively stable adults, no matter what their circumstances might be. And through those years they do need help. But the help they need is parents who communicate with them, who show that they care about them, spend the time with them that they need, know when to back off and when to give out the tough love.

Please, I urge you from the bottom of my heart, if you know of any legislation pending in your state that will give any agency the power to screen for mental illness in children, do whatever it takes to halt it.

Borrowing a phrase from a former First Lady...JUST SAY NO!