Children's Health (cont.)

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Children's mental illness

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death during the teen years. Major depression and bipolar disease may underlie suicide attempts and suicide.

It was once thought that children were not subject to these mental illnesses because children had not yet developed the ability to feel hopeless and helpless about the future. That is clearly untrue. It is now widely acknowledged that children are susceptible not only to major depression and bipolar disease but also to anxiety disorders, phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Here again the treatment must be appropriate for use in the pediatric age range.

Family health & children

Family health looks at children's health and well-being in the context of their family unit. The health of the family as a whole plays a major role in determining the health of each child within that family. This applies not only to children's physical health but to their emotional health as well.

Our society professes the ideal that every child should grow up in a household under the care of a pair of loving adults who possess appropriate parenting skills. The reality today is that divorce, single parenting, and step-parenting are common. Adoption and foster-parenting are also not uncommon. The historically traditional biological mother/father household is not the only type of household in which children are growing up today.

The provision of adequate child care and supervision -- and the prevention of child abuse and neglect -- need to be openly addressed. One of the most tragic situations is the physical injury, emotional damage, or even death that occurs because a caregiver has shaken, burned, hit, or sexually assaulted a child.


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