Every year, more and more research comes out proving that if we experience trauma while growing up, we are exponentially more likely to have significant health problems in adulthood. These problems, in turn, become huge expenses for our healthcare system and our society -- as well as a huge toll on each individual adult. By truly investing resources into protecting children, we would vastly improve the health of our nation.
There are many ways to go about this, but the government could do three things that would benefit children nationwide right away: decrease incarceration rates, raise the minimum wage, and provide widely available and free substance abuse treatment.
Sign the petition if you think the U.S. government needs to take these three steps to protect children now and their future health later.
One way psychologists think about how childhood trauma affects kids is by measuring their Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). This is a list of 10 things that can happen to a child that dramatically increase their risk for severe mental AND physical health ailments as adults. One of the 10 things is having a parent or family member go to jail or prison, another is having a parent who suffers from Substance Use Disorder and another is not having their basic physical needs met due to poverty.
We shouldn't need to make a financial argument for implementing these three societal changes, but there is one to be made. Healthcare in the U.S. is extremely expensive, paying to incarcerate people is extremely expensive, and paying to subsidize the wages of people whose jobs do not pay them a living wage is also extremely expensive. That doesn't even take into account the immense suffering and hardship associated with these circumstances that the individuals must suffer through and navigate. The cheaper and more ethical choice, as a society, would be to legislate a raise in the minimum wage, decarcerate more people and provide mental health treatment, specifically substance abuse treatment.
To be clear: this is a public health crisis. And it's one that the current pandemic is only exacerbating. More kids than ever don't have enough to eat or are stuck at home with a parent who has untreated Substance Use Disorder. And even in the height of the pandemic, there has been barely any effort to decarcerate people, even though we know jails and prisons are hotbeds for viral spread. We cannot afford to let this go on, both from a moral perspective and a practical one.
Please sign the petition to show your support for three changes: decarceration, increasing the minimum wage, and providing free substance abuse treatment.