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Life Arts    H1'ed 11/15/17

Today's Children Will Be in a Constant State of Emergency Tomorrow

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No wonder there's a growing army of "preppers." It's hard to escape feeling the apocalypse is around the corner, or if not the apocalypse, then another civil war. The culprits for this feeling: natural disasters, mass shootings, and cybercrime. Oh, and divisive politicians. If things keep going in the direction they seem to be headed, we'll have to have mandatory apocalypse prep classes for elementary school students.

All kidding aside, it's a tough time to be a parent. Even if your family wasn't directly affected by any of the major events that have unfolded over the last several months, your kids probably still know a great deal about them. You have the media and free speech to thank for that, and you can hardly take the First Amendment for granted, nor can you impugn it. You don't want to be dismissive if your kids bring up hurricanes and shootings, yet as intense event follows intense event, it's hard not to feel detached and analytical, even cynical. These are people's lives though, and you need to model sympathy and care, you need to model humanism at a time when a kind of cold detachment is becoming the norm.

If your family has been directly affected by disaster, it's tough to know the right path forward. You want to prepare your children for a future where natural disaster, violence and loss may be the norm--but you don't want to dwell on these things. Dr. Elanna Yalow , Chief Academic Officer of KinderCare Education, says, "One thing you want to be mindful of is having too many high-stress conversations about your losses or challenges within earshot of young children. They are very sensitive to the stress of the adults around them, so if they see you upset, that can be unsettling to them."

The key is to prepare children for the future in a way that is calm, reassuring, and hopeful. Yet imagine you're among the Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria . Currently, 60 percent of the island is without power, and more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans have had to move to the mainland. There aren't many ways to shield a child from that kind of stress.

As catastrophic events become more common, it's important to educate kids on techniques for coping with stress. The more common catastrophes such as Hurricane Maria become, the more likely it is they'll affect your children.

All the time as a parent you're dealing with this raging debate of whether climate change is contributing to natural disasters. If climate change is real, and most scientists say it is, then your children will see an increase in hurricanes like Maria when they're adults. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (quoted by Melvin Maria here ), "There's no arguing--the world is getting warmer, weather events will become more catastrophic, and we're causing it." Yet the current president and his staff don't believe in climate change (Trump says it's a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese). Not believing in it won't make it stop.

Then, imagine coming to the mainland and being bombarded with reports of mass shootings. Most recently, a gunman in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs opened fire on a congregation, killing 26 people. He was able to buy firearms because of an Air Force error . Trump said the shooting wasn't an issue of unlawful gun ownership. "I think that mental health is your problem here," Trump said.

This is coming from a president who wants to cut Medicaid spending , when millions of Americans rely on Medicaid funds to help rehabilitate mentally ill family members.

It's true the gunman was mentally ill, but he wouldn't have been able to get any guns if the background check had involved "extreme vetting," the type of rigorous investigation Trump is gunning for with Muslim immigrants.

But when someone asked Trump if he would support extreme vetting, he said, "If you did what you're suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago, and you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him and hit him and neutralize him." He's talking about the gun-toting citizen who shot the gunman after he came out of the church.

His idea, a familiar one from bygone Wild West days, is that more people should carry guns to protect themselves from shooters. If it's up to the NRA and the politicians they bankroll, everyone will carry a gun in the future. Parents (if they don't already) will buy guns for kids soon as they're strong enough to carry them.

To any reasonable spectator, it's clear a future awash in guns will be future of more mass shootings. Thanks to the Second Amendment, another amendment we can't curb, our link to guns is inextricable. Really, what should we tell our kids about the parade of mass shootings that shows no sign of slowing down? Lock and load?

On top of natural disasters and mass shootings, as a parent you have to deal with the thought of cybercrime affecting your kids' future. There are ways to safeguard school networks, but that doesn't erase the fact that about 27 percent of schools allow anyone access to their open networks, and 54 percent don't require antivirus software.

Then there's the Equifax data breach . If your kids are among the 143 million whose Social Security info was exposed, they could be affected for the rest of their lives.

We're becoming more dependent on the digital world every day. About 40 million people use online dating sites , but increasingly, there's no assurance the person you're messaging for a potential hookup is real. In the future, the Equifax breach will make it easy for predators to steal identities, pose as someone on Tinder, and take your child for all they're worth.

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