In a world that should be protecting and nurturing its young, there are some alarming facts about children and their health that every parent should know. Full of innocence, charm and honesty, these small people depend on the older generations to keep them safe from disease and harm, yet in many ways they face multiple dangers every day.
Second hand smoke.
Many parents feel that they provide a safe environment for their children by monitoring their activities, providing proper supervision and keeping them away from dangerous items that could cause them harm. The parents do this with the greatest of intentions; all the while smoking cigarettes in the home and in the car. Second hand smoke poses one of the greatest health dangers to children today. With over 60 known cancer causing chemicals in second hand smoke, even breathing in particles that cling to the smoker’s clothing, hair or skin cause the potential for lung cancer. Being exposed to this harmful element causes increased occurrences of upper respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis in children. Ear infections, an increasingly common affliction in children, can be caused through the continuous exposure to second hand smoke. Young people who suffer from asthma are more likely to experience attacks when second hand smoke is present. Even incidents of sudden infant death syndrome have been attributed to second hand smoke. Because children have no opportunity to escape an environment laden with this harmful element, they are at the mercy of the parents who emit this danger into the air their child breathes.
Every member of the family is affected when domestic violence takes places in a home whether or not they are the subject of the abuse or not. An environment where a child feels constant fear affects them in much the same way as those who are abused themselves. They feel threatened, anxious, confused and are unable to form bonding relationships with their parents. When the risk of violence is continually in the air, the child often faces neglect as the parents are absorbed in the violent atmosphere they have created. Children who live within this type of environment are more likely to develop emotional, developmental, psychological, social and behavioral issues. Often, anger and depression are exhibited by these children; traits that could very well follow them through their developmental years into adulthood.
A truly alarming fact about children is that nobody really knows the exact number that are being sexually abused, since many times the child refuses to reveal what is happening to them. Often, they or other family members are threatened if the child should tell anyone about the abuse. It may occur within the family unit, or by a family friend, neighbor, child care provider, teacher; virtually anyone is suspect. No child is able to cope or comprehend with sexual abuse; physically or emotionally. The age of the child dictates how they respond to the abuse, but eventually most develop low self-esteem, low self confidence, feelings of worthlessness and have difficulty relating to others. When the situation is not brought into the open and dealt with, the child could grow to be an abuser themselves.
One of the newest threats that face today’s children is in the arena of social networking. Cyberbullying is becoming a growing problem, with some children so distressed by the bullying online that they commit suicide. Unprovoked verbal attacks that are placed for the world to see are more than a child should be expected to endure. Children depend upon their peers as they form their identities; being bullied causes low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy and anxiety.
It is difficult to provide a safe and nurturing environment for these innocent young ones, when there are numerous threats and dangers that exist in the world today facing our children in their daily activities.