Children are suffering, worldwide. They are being born into a world that feels unsafe and unable to support their natural state – one that is expressive, creative, intuitive and alive. They are being locked into constrictive boxes, told that they will only be enough if they meet the expectations of the society around them. Their schedules are overwhelming. They are being given little to no room to follow their own hearts and being patronized for the very humanness that allows them to evolve. They are effectively operating as emotionless robots in the face of all of the overstimulation and technology that is present. Never before have we experienced so much continuous destruction, disease and delusion as a collective, especially amongst our younger populations.
Children also represent one of the most oppressed populations, worldwide. They are rarely seen as equals. They are ostracized and misunderstood by most. And the desire to control this vulnerable subset by those who have the power to is ever prevalent.
We tend to ignore the reality of our world today, especially when it comes to the health of future generations. We hear most commonly that ‘it’s just the way it is.’ We have normalized how unsupportive the world has become for children, limiting their ability to thrive – ironically, this is most prevalent in our own backyard.
Children in North America, particularly, are suffering immensely. Despite being in the most resource and space-abundant continent on the planet, children are not thriving, when we examine what is occurring beneath the surface of advances in technology, fancy child-oriented facilities, and Instagram-happy photos.
The World Health Organization confirms that the United States has the highest ratio of mental health cases in the world. Not surprisingly, depression rates amongst children are unprecedented in this region. Over 17% of children have received a mental, physical or developmentally-related diagnosis prior to the age of 8. Children are being categorized and labeled for psychological and developmental disorders, feeling more isolated and pressured to ‘fix themselves’ as a result. We are aware that where they do not feel safe to be seen, they simply can not grow.
For comparative purposes on a global scale, I have grouped Canada with the United States as many of the systems children are subject to are similar enough between the two – that of family and cultural orientation, education, and more.
Here are 6 of the top reasons why children are the least fulfilled in North America –
- Mental health is stigmatized. There is a tremendous dependency on medication as a result, in hopes of numbing or ‘fixing’ the problem as quickly as possible. There is also a lack of exposure to natural healing processes, to release past traumas or be supported through traumatic experiences that may be current. What this means for a child is that they carry much internal pain into adulthood, as they are not given space for their big and very normal emotions. They will hide them as a result, or express them in ways that do not serve their highest selves. This later results in misalignment on a psychological level, putting stress on all bodily systems. The steady access to highly processed food choices also impacts all aspects of health.
- Parental guidance and honest presence are more limited than anywhere else on the planet. Parents work more days and longer hours away from their children in North America than in any other region of the world, due to the cost of living and drive for material wealth. Due to work demands that continue into personal waking hours, parents are subject to more time on their phones at home as well. Overwhelmed and tired parents mean that children are not receiving the attention, nurturing, and emotional support they typically require from their caregivers to build a strong foundation developmentally. Moreover, children lack exposure to generational influence and care ie. grandparents, cousins, etc. in the absence of their parents, and such care is replaced by babysitters and nannies who they may not receive the same level of intimate guidance from. This impacts the confidence and safety that would otherwise be nurtured by attachment to their primary caregivers. The child’s nervous system functioning is greatly affected in the process, and the child becomes less available for their own life experience and learning.
- Communities are individually oriented, and children have fewer siblings on average to interact with and learn from – communities are structured to serve the individual or nuclear family unit rather than a collective system. Additionally, there are many more children being raised as only children, limiting interaction and support amongst family members. North America has one of the lowest ratios of persons per household in the world. For children, this translates into less human interaction and support.
- There is a greater focus on a child’s external performance, which limits their ability to express their innate gifts, creativity, and intuition that is born from the inside and serves as an internal compass for humans for a lifetime. Classroom sizes are some of the largest in the world, and little attention is put on emotional support for the child in their earliest years – the foundation for all cognitive development later on. The pressure to acquire scholarship level marks to assist with the cost of post-secondary education, and later, top-paying jobs to support the high cost of living and personal profiling is ever-present. For children, what this often results in is following an external formula of success based on familial or societal expectations, later leading to unfulfilling careers and lives. Stress on all systems – emotional, physical, mental and spiritual – prevails as we live a life that is not in alignment with our own values.
- Children spend less time moving their bodies and, in the outdoors, than ever before, especially in the United States. The average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and several hours a day in front of a screen in place of what was once spent in free play. This means for children that they are less connected to the rhythm and beauty of the natural universe, and each other, and the energy in their bodies is much more stagnant, leading to an unhealthier life path.
- Due to the transient nature of the North American population in large city centers and segregated communities, most maintain a lack of connection to cultural context and access to the wisdom of past generations. What this means for children is that they are often disassociated from the value of meaningful rituals, and guidance that is passed through the lineage.
This shared, children of North America have the greatest potential on our planet to create change. They live in the most abundantly resourced place in the world. They have greater access to tools and communities, as well as a voice in their communities. Trauma is talked about and addressed for those willing to address it. Organizations are being built free of charge.
North America is where in the world we see the greatest diversity in the world. North America represents the new race – interracial relationships, togetherness across races, ages, borders.
A shift in humanity will have to begin in North America, undoubtedly. There is a great deal of transition that will have to occur, as witnessed in the destruction of many old systems that are no longer serving. But there is great hope for a path that supports future generations. If, and only if, those of us who have access to the tools, resources, and expansive communities model what is possible by taking the first steps towards real change.