AFH artwork by Alicia Pham
Different cultures have different beliefs about when, why, and how to communicate with children. Some, for example, will wait until they feel a child will fully understand before opening a book and reading to them.
I know a woman who never talks to or reads to her son. He is now three years old and already in therapy -- because he cannot speak.
This story from tells a different tale:
“Jacob loves books. His mom knows this because when she sits down to read to him every night, he waves his arms excitedly.
“His favorite page of ‘Goodnight Moon’ shows a cow jumping over the moon. He squeals and reaches for the book every
time he sees it. When she is done reading, his mom usually lets him hold the sturdy board book, which he promptly sticks into his mouth.
“Jacob is only six months old, but he is already well on his way to becoming a reader.”
According to, reading aloud to young ones is a critical form of stimulation that:
“Teaches a baby about communication; introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way; builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills; and gives babies information about the world around them.”
Many parents believe that school is the place for learning when, in reality, education starts at home.
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Kiara Maher / AFH Photo
If victims of child abuse are not healed, they can be scarred for life.
“Nationally,” according to a January article in the Boston Globe, “702,208 children were reported to have been abused and neglected during scal 2014.”
Kids who are abused can face many issues going forward, experts say. They may experience trauma because of bad memories and from being afraid that it will happen again. They can behave aggressively, not only with family members
but also within their communities. They might be fearful of physical touch and be unable
to form normal relationships.
Children are our future. Aren’t we supposed to love and protect them? Why are they being mistreated?
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AFH artwork by Jessy Camacho
The issue of how being poor can affect your education is a serious one because these kids often receive a less than stellar early education, can have trouble in high school, and may never make it out of college if they even go -- and thus are at risk for getting stuck in the cycle of poverty.
In 2013, for example, 77 percent of adults from very wealthy families had earned at least bachelor’s degrees by the time they turned 24 compared to only 9 percent of people from the lowest income backgrounds, according to a Wall Street Journal report on a study released last year.
In obvious ways, experts say, richer kids have the advantages of access to better technology and after school programs
and in influential connections. Yet, they say, there are also a host of hidden obstacles that can lead to school-based problems, from higher absenteeism often having to do with watching after younger siblings so both parents can work, to concentration on schoolwork being clouded by relentless stress.
And yet, many teens have overcome these difficulties by learning to be resilient while fighting to achieve what they are passionate about.
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AFH photo by Bill Le
Not so long ago, a teen got shot in front of my house because of some gang issue.
In fact, according to state data collected in 2013, 20 percent of students said they’d been in a physical beef in the past year and 7 percent reported gang involvement.
The roots of teen violence extend deeply.
As I see it, people can commit violence because they are angry or lonely or desperate or feel inferior.
Their family upbringing and neighborhood environment also play a part.
In addition, some teens can’t distinguish between harsh scenarios portrayed in movies or video games and what goes down in real life.
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AFH artwork by Ariane Fleming
Mental health issues continue to hit teenagers every year.
“Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years,” according to
Today, one in five teens and young adults live with a mental health condition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“Teenage depression isn’t just bad moods and the occasional melancholy,” says “It’s a serious problem... that can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, self-loathing and self-mutilation, pregnancy, violence....”
Mental health experts say parents should supportively talk to their children, and seek professional help if these warning signs do occur: feelings of hopelessness and hostility; frequent crying; withdrawal from friends and family; and lack of motivation.
Another factor to deal with is social media. While many teens view social media as a creative and fun outlet, others nd that it only adds pressure to an already-stressful period in adolescence of having to always measure up.
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