As I mentioned in a previous blog, the General and I attended the production of “Living Dream” performed by the Lake Travis Cavaliers at the Lake Travis Performing Arts Center. As I referenced in the earlier blog, it was clearly apparent that all school districts are not created equal. The prestige and ambience associated to Lake Travis High School is impressive. It has the very best that money can buy. Actually, I’ve never been on a high school campus that had so much to offer. Obviously, it is a credit to the community. When you invest in kids, the outcome has to pay dividends or so it seems.
Consequently, I was shocked by one of the announcements shared in the course of the evening. One of the dances was either dedicated to or in memory of students whose lives were either cut short or threatened with thoughts of suicide. I can’t remember exactly how it was expressed, but it was a startling announcement.
The thrust of the announcement was the alarming news that a recent survey identified students in the Lake Travis Independent School District as experiencing higher levels of stress and suicidal ideation than is the national norm.
The results of the survey are concerning and rightfully so. Reportedly over fourteen hundred students participated in the survey. Of that number, 773 students surveyed said they feel the stress of school is “too much.” In addition, 171 students said they considered committing suicide in the past year, and 80 of those 171 students actually attempted suicide.
For more details, you can check out the Austin (KXAN) report entitled: “Survey: Lake Travis ISD students more likely to consider suicide than national peers: http://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/survey-lake-travis-isd-students-more-likely-to-consider-suicide-than-national-peers_20180312075804103/1031504218
It was President Herbert Hoover who said: “Children are our most valuable natural resource.” In the midst of much, how do we fail to provide the infrastructure and support that children really need to thrive?
Several years ago the “Commission on Children at Risk” published a report to the Nation entitled: “Hardwired to Connect – the new scientific case for authoritative communities”. The commission was composed of doctors, research scientists and mental health and youth service professionals. Their findings were startling. They, too, determined that the nation is in the midst of a crisis.
Obviously, there are an increasing number of children and adolescents in the midst of serious mental, emotional and behavioral difficulties. Long story short, we have developed into a culture that is at a deficit for connections. We are hardwired to connect and we haven’t done a good job of fostering relationships and providing our children the need to do the same. Consequently, many children and youth live without a sense of close connections to other people. They also live without deep connections to moral and spiritual meaning.
We have literally sown to the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind. The prophet Hosea expressed it this way: “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up”.
We are a nation of abundance, but somehow we find ourselves with a deficit of adults readily available to support and impact the lives of today’s children. Children need cheerleaders. They need role models. They need mentors. They need to know they are important. They need to know they are loved.
Research makes it clear those children who have at least five significant adults in their lives fare much better at being equipped for life when they reach adulthood than those who don’t have that level of support.
During my childhood years, church was one of the places that provided both people connections and moral and spiritual meaning. Not only are we hardwired for connections with others, I also believe we have a God shaped void in our lives that only God can fill.
With the best of intentions, it concerns me that today’s children and youth often live without that same interpersonal connection with church and faith. We’ve become a culture with parents who wanting the best for their children, provide them a competitive edge through sports and athletic opportunities. After all, if you don’t start developing the skill set in early childhood, you won’t be good enough to make the team when you get to high school. Who can argue with that. It is one of today’s realities.
Sadly, the problem surfaces when athletic or other opportunities and church create a scheduling conflict. Guess what most often loses out? Actually, you don’t have to guess. You already know. After all, kids can catch up with God in the midst of adulthood or can they?
All My Best!