A Missing Component in our Political Discussions

serious stare, half face of African American teen.

We are already entering a season of the next presidential election. The debates and discussions have begun and there are many issues that need to be confronted to help our families and children in America achieve their dreams and aspirations. Issues like the economy, education, border protection, poverty, foreign policy, Ukraine support, taxes, social security, law and order, and many other concerns are on the stage of American policy and practice. All of these issues have significant impact on our citizens and we are right to address them aggressively.

What is not being discussed is the outrageous number of students and family members who are facing a mental health crisis. I heard it alluded to briefly in the recent Republican debates, but when we think about so many of our social problems, trauma and adversity need to be considered as a viable reason for a number of these issues.

Why do we take drugs and end up at life risk because of fentanyl? What is behind so much of our violence? Why can’t students succeed in our schools? What has happened that has contributed to our nationwide mental health crisis? What has created the prevalent violence in our country? 

The state of our children is one of the most significant issues that we should be concerned about. They are both our present stewardship and our future consequence. What we do about their safety, their development, and their potential will be something we all will be leaving as our legacy.

As we know from the Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs) study, how we treat our children has everything to do with their life, health and emotional health. If they are impacted by trauma, adversity, continual stress, an educational system in disarray, family dysfunction and breakup, abuse, failure, and other negative influencers, there will be life consequences that have a high probability of resulting in drug use, violence, school failure, and a continuing mental health crisis!

Yet we hardly mention these issues as causes for many of the social problems that our youth and adults are experiencing.

This is evidenced by the continued lack of resources provided for mental health treatment, healthy schools, and the establishment of more organizations like Lakeside that are trained and capable of dealing with the problems that are confronting our students and their families. 

So many of the issues that we posture about and have so many strong opinions about can be resolved by the establishment of caring and trained adults to help our youth through these issues. We certainly have the capacity to help our youth.

I know this because of the impact we have at Lakeside as we help over 8,000 youth overcome their life obstacles which we turn into new opportunities for healing, growth, and success. How we do that should be a part of the landscape of our discussions in order to make changes in some of the significant issues that we are attempting to address in our political discussions. It is often a missing and significant component of our societal ills. As most can see around them, we are now paying dearly for lack of focus on these issues.

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