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Today's adults know there will always be struggles and dangers that morph and escalate, so it is critical to keep pace, stay involved and push back

Kids face a lot of challenges in the 2020s that simply didn't exist when their parents were navigating their childhood — or at least not in the same fashion. Who, in the adult population, is grateful that social media didn't exist when they were busy making mistakes and showing poor judgment? Imagine growing up in a society where school shootings have been a tragic and frightening presence for your entire lifetime. How would we have fared if deadly fentanyl pills that can be disguised to look like candy had been out on the streets?

Yes, kids have always faced a lot of challenges, and perhaps its recency bias, but it seems like children in the 2020s are dealing with struggles that are especially damaging or dangerous. They need sound parental and adult supervision and guidance perhaps now more than ever.

And paradoxically, these needs have escalated in a time where more and more families have had to turn to two-income households to afford day-to-day life. They have escalated at a time when personal interaction has given way to electronic device indulgences and other distractions that shorten or completely eliminate parent-to-child interactions.

Parenting is difficult — very difficult. Mentoring children or counseling them as they face problems that didn't exist during their childhood is tough. But it is very important to ensure that kids get our full attention and our full effort, because the things they encounter in the world can hit very hard and very fast.

Yes, today's adults dealt with dangerous drugs, but fentanyl seems to be a different beast, and the emergence of counterfeit pills and pills disguised to resemble candy seems worse than what any previous generation has faced.

Today's adults were exposed to tobacco products and risked getting hooked by a deadly habit, but they didn't grow up in a society with vaping. How much harder is it to resist fruit and candy flavors? How much more likely is it, with the substantially higher nicotine content, for kids to get hooked?

Today's adults dealt with bullying — but they didn't face a wide-open onslaught of social media insults getting hurtled at them from numerous directions. The previous generation's self-esteem was compromised as they compared themselves to airbrushed photos in magazines — which were prevalent but not a click away like social media posts and the rest of the internet.

Like most societal problems, there is no silver bullet answer, but different people in the adult world share a part in equipping kids for what they will face and protecting them from what they shouldn't have to face. It starts in the home, with parents or guardians staying vigilant, talking to their children — whether the kids feel like it or not — and addressing the tough topics and asking the uncomfortable questions. Outside of the home, community investment in healthy venues for children is critical. Whether it's faith-based clubs, sports leagues or after-school programs, a community can never have too many options.

Today's adults know that there will always be struggles and dangers, and that they morph and escalate as the years pass. So, it is critical to keep pace, stay involved and push back.


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