No kid gloves

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  • It’s alarming. The number of young people dying in Canada has risen in the last few years, and not because of illness, but pure and simple neglect by the government. Canada’s reputation in the world as a healthy place to raise children is belied by statistics showing high rates of suicide, child abuse and struggles with mental health. According to a report compiled by Children First Canada and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, the study, which analyzes data from major research organizations including Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute of Health Information, said all orders of government need to do more to ensure that children benefit from the country’s overall wealth and prosperity, in particular, children’s health.

    Children First pointed to a UNICEF ranking of 41 Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development countries that placed Canada 25th on the list when assessing for children’s well-being. There have been various research agencies that have documented many troubling markers of kids health over the years, with mental health emerging as an area of increasing urgency. The report found the number of mental health-related hospitalizations among people aged five to 24 had soared 66 per cent over the last decade. The lack of stats focusing specifically on those 18 or under, highlights one of the many shortcomings in the government’s efforts to keep tabs on children’s health.

    According to the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative between Sick Kids Hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of Toronto, many of these cases are youth who are not given the proper counseling and attention that they need in order to address their problems. Many of these cases result in suicide attempts, and sometimes death. Despite documenting high prevalence of mental health issues in kids as far back as 1987, Canada has taken comparatively little action to get at the root of the problem.

    The results also show not only a red flag, but an ongoing shortfall in the way mental health is handled in schools and primary health centres. Many institutions today, as well as parents, fail to give their children the necessary tools to cope with these things when they’re still minor. We are a crisis-driven health care system, not a public health system, that should aim to avoid and prevent these things from happening. Helicopter parents have enabled their children to think that as long as they speak their mind and raise their issues, something will be done about it by a third party. These parents forget that the best way for their children to cope with issues is to allow them to fall, to seek help, and to give encouragement to rise from them.

    As well, instead of exploring psychological assessment and the appropriate therapy to cope with issues, young people are simply given what they think they want, rather than the remedy they need, because parents simply do not want to deal with the harsh criticism of social media when they don’t “support” their children’s choices. This leads to the child’s further confusion, and more issues rise from them. In the end, when the child becomes more mature in age and intellect, and is ready to face his/her problem, they realize that there is no turning back from a decision that they were allowed to make when they were at an age that they needed guidance, not approval of their ill-advised decisions.

    Many data shows that a growing number of young people are ultimately resorting to suicide. Suicide is the second-most common cause of death among children, and Canada’s child suicide rate is among the top five in the world. Suicide is a result of desperation and frustration over issues that young people needed to resolve with the help of a responsible adult, one that is capable of giving them the courage to face a problem, to deal with it in the best way possible without changing their lives forever, and to help them get through crises that does not involve permanent damage to their lives. Alas, social media wins the day, and the death of a young person will live in the news for a few days until a new, more controversial issue takes over the papers and grapevine.

    As Canada gears up for the legalization of marijuana, many responsible parents fear the worst. Marijuana is a drug because it contains tetrahydrocannabinol or THC that creates the mind-altering effects that classifies marijuana as a “drug.” The medicinal part of marijuana used for pain management is CBD or cannabinol, and does not have the effects that gets you high. Big difference. As well, recent studies on young adults that smoke marijuana, found abnormalities in the brain related to emotion, motivation and decision-making. Marijuana smokers have poorer memories and mental aptitude than do non-users. This will make the next generation dumber and dumber, and the next Liberal government not any smarter.

    If the Canadian government spent less time on implementing laws legalizing marijuana and more on children’s physical and mental health, these mental and physical health issues would not be happening. As it is, the Trudeau government is giving numerous mixed signals to children regarding how they should take care of themselves, and legalizing marijuana and many issues regarding physical health and identity, are some of the issues that continue to confuse young people. With a poor mental health care monitoring and preventative system to begin with, children really don’t have a fighting chance. If it is true that Canada is no longer a country highly recommended to raise children, then my husband and I made a mistake choosing this country to be our home. We hope and pray we weren’t wrong.

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