How to help troubled children

Childhood abuse survivor and at-risk youth advocate explains why an economy in crisis directly leads to families in crisis
July 9, 2009 10:24:26 AM PDT
Children are the final and most precious victims of today's economic turmoil, says Steve Simpson, youth advocate and author of Runaway. A healthy, well-functioning family will probably weather the current economic situation with some belt-tightening and a few more family game nights. However, the dysfunctional, abusive clan may spiral into a situation of hopelessness and despair, adds Simpson, a former runaway and child abuse survivor.

USA Today and Reuters are just a few of the news agencies reporting an increase in teen runaways, suicide, and abandonment in recent months. The National Runaway Switchboard handles more than 100,000 calls each year, many from troubled young people dealing with increasingly difficult issues. Data from the organization shows that callers are getting younger and that 6,884 crisis callers last year said they had been abused or neglected, compared with 3,860 in 2000; a 78% increase. These heart-wrenching numbers can only be expected to increase in 2009 as the economy shows no signs of a quick recovery.

"The economic problems will get better. Stocks will go up. But a young person's life is a stock we can't afford to have go down!" says Simpson. "It is important that we recognize that the economy affects more than income and jobs. It affects at-risk children significantly."

Among the problems facing families:

· How a bad economy dramatically increases abuse and addictive behaviors?

· Will the dismal financial situation affect whether young people runaway or consider suicide?

· How deeply help-organizations and shelters have been affected by the poor economy?

· What goes through a teen's mind while contemplating running away and/or suicide?

· How does an abused child regain his/her self-esteem?

· Can abusive parents ever change and be forgiven?

Growing up, Simpson experienced violent abuse at the hands of an alcoholic father. As a young boy, he found solace in writing stories as a way to escape his tragic home-life. In his novel Runaway, he deftly portrays many of the unfortunate, yet compelling themes of his life. Wrapping important messages in the form of fiction, he opens the door for discussion which then can eventually lead to healing and resolution for children, and the parent or caregiver as well.

Simpson believes Runaway, based upon his tragic childhood experiences, can be used as a tool to begin an honest dialogue about the problems facing many young people today:

How and where children can get help if they are being abused and/or neglected.

Viable alternatives to running away and suicide. The increase of alcoholism and its effect on children. How the stress of the economic situation can directly lead to abuse and serious problems for children

How the Internet can be both a good and bad influence on children at risk. The truth about living in a foster home. The denial of parents.

Mr. Simpson warns, "There is never an excuse for abuse of any kind in any financial situation. However, when things get rough and people begin to lose hope, the compulsions and character flaws get worse. Alcoholism, drug use, destructive behaviors and violent tempers become more acute. The end result: child abuse and child neglect."

Runaway has been endorsed by the National Runaway Switchboard as well as several national school curriculums. Runaway is available for purchase at the author's website www.powerpublishingcorp.com as well as BakerandTaylor.com and BookClearingHouse.com. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book are being donated to charity.


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