While the media gives readers and viewers news flashes daily, it’s rare that we get more than a name, location and date of the incidents. The Children’s Defense Fund’s statistics are gathered and presented in a way that arouses attention and a call to action. Visit www.childrensdefense.org to access statistics on children state by state.
A few of the “Moments in America for Black Children” from Children’s Defense Fund’s research show the following as of July 2011: Every 4 seconds a public school student is suspended; every 57 seconds a public school student is corporally punished; every minute a child is arrested; every 3 and a half minutes a child is abused or neglected; every 4 and a half minutes a baby is born to a teen mother; every 15 minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense; every 15 minutes a child is arrested for a violent offense; every 6 hours a child or teen is killed by a firearm; every 22 and a half hours a child dies of abuse or neglect; every 2 days a child or teen commits suicide.
While we’ve formed the habit of being mere consumers of the news, it’s time for a change. Our children’s survival depends on us, as does their reaching their full potential. Let’s face it, reading stats like the above or hearing or reading the headlines of daily newspapers is frightening and when we’re not connected to support systems, the silent, unexpressed fear becomes the enemy that drives frightened parents to further deprive their child of the nurturing that’s so needed. Where does it end?
We have a tremendous opportunity to create change provided we’re willing to identify and confront our own fears – those we had as children and as adults. Since we live in a world of “looking good”, it may take some work to find children or adults who can be counted on to tell the truth but it’s well worth the effort. The psychiatric industry‘s success lies in their ability to have patients tell the truth about the painful situations in their lives. Parents and caretakers have the same opportunity to clear and protect their children. Why we don’t know that? Because we live in an economy that survives, and even thrives, on humans being needy.
From infancy, let’s retrace the neediness stages in human development. Parents are asked to be absolutely truthful in answering the questions. Psychologists studying developmental stages of human beings have given indicators for human needs and development. From birth to 24 months, the child needs to receive consistent care from consistent caregivers, needs to know that responses are made when he or she cries. The practice of African women tying their infants on their backs satisfied that need while maintaining their freedom of movement.
If children learn to trust their environment they will explore, seeking new experiences. If they don’t, they will be plagued by self-doubt and will fear new and different things. Interruptions in consistent care could come if the infant was admitted to the hospital or if the mother returns to work early after birth or frequent changes in babysitters. Please note that if the child experienced any of those things, the emotional impact could be the source of behavioral issues at an older age. Therefore, clearing emotional waste is an important exercise at any age.
Toddlers are learning to function independent of adults. They can now walk and talk, meaning more physical and mental autonomy. Having learned trust during the first year, the child is ready to demonstrate will. Parents of two-year-olds are familiar with the word “no”, which is said often. The task for the toddler is to explore the environment on his or her own. Parents must let the child explore and try new things in the environment and at the same time protect the child from harm. Parents who are overly protective prevent their children from gaining confidence. Children of parents who exercise no control, often get hurt. Both extremes may cause insecurity where the child fears independent action may lead to doubt and shame. During this age, the groundwork is laid for independent thought and actions in later years.
The message to parents is: “ You are more than a diaper-changer – you have the opportunity to change the world.” If you are willing to take it on contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.