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Today's children face grief and loss issues we never dreamed of.....
death, not only of parents and family members, but of child friends...and not just "normal" death, but murder and suicide. Parents may be gone even if not dead - as in divorce or in jail. Todays kids know about and live with daily anxiety about drugs, AIDS, abuse and violence. The chaos and fear of the world is instantly brought into their lives by TV and the internet to intimately confront them within seconds of an event, so the experience is that it's all happening right now.... right here.
Today's children often feel they will not live to reach adulthood....
the dangers outside and the internal lack of coping skills leave them fearful and alienated by an adult world that all too often has failed to protect them - has let them down.
When they can't cope any more they scream out for help, but are seldom heard...
they act out with inappropriate social behavior like violence, sex or just dropping out... or they act in against themselves self-destructively using drugs, or even suicide in alarming numbers.
Mostly the adult world negatively judges and blames them for their behaviors...
precious little has been made available for kids in a downward spiral, but on the way down they are often labelled ADD or ADHD or "slow learners" or "troublemakers".... and when they go down far enough they are criminalized, hospitalized.... or buried.
If we can just see them in a new way we really can help...
together, as a support team, we can learn to really see them and hear them...we can learn the signs, to recognize their pleas for help ...before they turn into screams, ...and before the screams are forever silenced.
Linda Goldman is an educator, grief therapist, author, lecturer, wife and mother, who has spent her adult life working with and learning about children. Her years of experience as a teacher, guidance-counselor, and grief-therapist have given her a unique view that crosses and unifies the boundaries of each of these intimately related, and yet distinctly different fields.
Goldman's books and seminars give a fresh and hopeful view of todays kids and of how we, as parents, teachers, doctors, friends, therapists, and caregivers of many types....all concerned adults....can work together as a "village grief team" in a new paradigm. We can make a difference to these young souls in troubled waters, to help them grow into their authentic roles as tomorrow's citizens in the New Millenium.
Children entering this new millennium are faced with life issues that were unspeakable to us growing up as children. Death related tragedies such as suicide, homicide, and AIDS, and non-death related traumas such as divorce and separation, foster care and abandonment, bullying and terrorism, and abuse and violence have left our children sitting alone in their homes, unfocused and unmotivated in their classrooms, and terrorized in their communities. They are overwhelmed with their feelings and distracted by their thoughts.
Survivorship of these traumas creates for any child a loss of their assumptive world of safety, protection, and predictability. The role of the media as a surrogate communal parent and extended family further creates this same traumatic loss of this assumptive world for many if not most of our children.
Children naturally assume their world will be filled with safety, kindness, and meaning as they attempt to answer the universal questions of who am I and why am I here. All too often these qualities seem to disappears into a nightmarish universe of randomness, isolation, and unpredictability. This leaves many of todayıs young people immersed in a new assumption: There is no future. There is no safety. There is no connectedness or meaning to my life. By joining together as a global grief team, caring adults can co-create an assumptive world that again provides a childıs birthright to presume love, generosity, and value will be integral parts of their lives.
We are raising a segment of our youth that are numbed, disconnected from their hearts, their minds, and their consciousnesses, and choosing all to easily, other alternatives such as drugs and alcohol, crime and violence as ways of coping with the loss of their assumptive world. In yesterdayıs world we may have protected ourselves from trauma by having fire drills in our schools. In todayıs world our kids protect themselves from danger in the schools by having gun-fire drills. Too many of todayıs school children are grieving children. So many of our boys and girls are born into a world of grief and loss issues that live inside their homes and lay waiting for them outside their doorsteps, on their streets, schoolyards, and classrooms. Increasingly, children are traumatized by prevailing social and societal loss issues in their families, their schools, their nation, and their world.
Text adapted with permission from Life and Loss: A Guide to Help Grievng Children, Breaking the Silence: A Guide To Help Children With Complicated Grief: Suicide, Homicide, AIDS, Violence, and Abuse and Helping The Grieving Child in the School Healing Magazine (Kidspeace)and Growing Up Fast (NES).
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