Children Are At Risk Of Being As Emotionally Damaged As Soldiers Returning From War

By Dr. John Rosa

You may think the title of this piece sounds ludicrous. Let me explain. Children between the ages of 6 and 17 years of age are in a state of constant neurological development. They can easily be negatively impacted by severe trauma or repetitive micro traumas. If you take into consideration the events of 2020 alone, without having a clue what is going to unfold this year, you may quickly understand.

For starters, the year began with an invisible monster in the form of the COVID-19 virus. Following that, the civil unrest and political upheaval that occurred was deeply disturbing. The west coast of the U.S. was on fire and the gulf coast was underwater. These events were enough to wreak havoc on the most solid adult, let alone children who are not equipped to understand or make sense of the world around them.

These are the kinds of unnerving events that often lead some young children into tobacco use and depressive disorders. According to an article in Clinical Pain Advisor, “Tobacco use and depression in childhood are key risk factors associated with young adult opioid use.” These behaviors lead to impaired reward system functioning and according to research, “may increase young adults’ vulnerability to opioid-associated euphoria.”

According to the study cited in the Clinical Pain Advisor article, “Opioid mortality of young adults has skyrocketed. Although prescription practices have changed, no effective solution for the current epidemic of promising preventive measures against future opioid crises is in sight.” The studies findings suggest “strong opportunities for early prevention and intervention including in primary care settings.”

With these facts in mind, it is imperative that the primary care system pays laser-focused attention to what could turn out to be a lost generation. A generation of children whose behavior is reflective of having been in a war-torn environment results in post-traumatic stress disorder and is nothing short of devastating. Let’s do everything we can to help our children.