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I opened my daughter’s laptop to do some editing for my job and had a sudden rush of gratitude AND sadness all at once and then anger slammed into me and I found myself crying.

Her wallpaper is a silly picture of her and her theatre friends from her senior year in high school.

I feel gratitude because… each time I look at this picture, it brings me a smile. I feel so much happiness looking at their silly expressions in this moment of time they caught in a selfie where they were being just them and together and playful and carefree. In the image, there is NO sign of the trauma every single person in the picture is living with. I know three of the four teens in the picture and I know that, while they were in high school, there was some REALLY dark shit going on in their personal worlds.

Which brought on the sadness. Our teens have it hard these days. Life is NOT kind to them. This planet is NOT kind to them. Older generations of humans are NOT kind to them. They keep going, though, most of them. Sadly, too many of them get lost in the tsunami of difficult experiences that life throws at them and they choose the only way they can figure out to get rid of the pain: they leave the planet altogether through suicide.

I watch our teenagers and how they find sanctuary in the midst of their friends. They find peace with their peers, safety there, smiles that are brought on because most teens can just BE with their friends and their friends don’t require them to bare their soul to them. No matter what abuse the teen is enduring, with their friends, they are safe.

Sadly, many of our teens ARE NOT safe in their own home. While they do not carry the outward signs of physical abuse – broken bones, bruises, lacerations – their inner worlds are an absolute mess of scars and open wounds caused by the mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse they suffer at the hands of the very people who are supposed to be protecting them from all that: THEIR PARENTS.

Being a teenager is a difficult time in the best of loving households, but when you add the virtually undetectable abuse that too many of today’s teens are living with, we create an atmosphere that is toxic at best, lethal at worst. Worst of all, that “invisible” abuse creates a situation wherein it is nearly impossible to garner protection for them because there is no visible “proof” of their pain.

Our teens are connected to instantaneous information. They are subject to brutality and bullying from directions that did not even exist when we were teens. They are intimately connected to their phones because that phone IS their life line. It is also an avenue where abuse can go unchecked, as well, not only from their peers, but from their parents.

Our teens ARE struggling. Our teens ARE being hurt. Our teens ARE being preyed upon by adults who are willing to steal the innocence of their childhood. We wonder why our nation is as messed up as it is. I’ll tell you. It is because the adults, who are just broken children themselves, are unwilling to stop blaming THEIR parents for how crappy of a parent they have become. They are unwilling to be accountable for the fact that they are perpetrating abuse upon the very person they SHOULD BE protecting. They are unwilling to friggin’ stop the cycle of abuse and heal themselves.

I am angry about the state of this world and the fact that OUR CHILDREN are being hurt by the damaged adults in their worlds. While I can have compassion for everyone and I can see their root cause of brokenness, I expect adults to get their act together and clear their own shit so they stop hurting their children.

I am so tired of unconscious humans who blame everyone for the sorry state of their lives, who blame their children for their poor behavior, who badmouth their children in public, who yell at them and demean them because “they can.” I am frustrated with the mentality of “these are MY children, get out of my business, I can raise them as I see fit.” Especially when that person’s definition of “fit” means blatant neglect and abuse.

Too many of our children today are silently praying for death. Too many of them want to no longer exist as a means of escaping the insidious abuse they live with day in and day out. Too many of our children are lost and feeling alone.

And they find refuge in the selfie-generation with friends who are also silently praying for death. Our children are banding together as a means to survive, but most of them want out of this planet.

And we are going to continue to lose too many of them if the adults don’t get their act together and heal their own brokenness. We are going to lose our Great Destroyers who are here to make right what generations before us have broken. And, if we lose our Millennials, THERE WILL BE NO MORE HUMANS ON THIS PLANET.

WAKE UP, PEOPLE!

We MUST turn the tides and we MUST support our teens in living UP to their potential, instead of allowing them to be dragged down by the sorry state of their parent’s inabilities to rise to their own.

Our teens need us and they need us NOW. Get over yourselves and look at the truth of them: they are magnificent, resilient creatures that can withstand A LOT of bullshit, but they ARE breakable.

All it takes is for you to be willing to drop your judgment about today’s youth and actually LISTEN to them. They’ll tell you how really shitty things are in their world by the words they choose to speak and the things they obviously choose to not say. If you pay attention to these kids, you will see that they are quietly – and some of them not so quietly – dying inside.

It is time for adults everywhere to START PAYING ATTENTION to what is going on here, what is REALLY going on here in this nation in regards to our children. Step up. Report to proper authorities ANY sort of abuse or neglect that you suspect on behalf of any child. MAKE IT your business to understand how, exactly, a child is being hurt – ESPECIALLY if it is happening in their home. That IS the most difficult battle to fight when it comes to the protection of our children AND it IS the battle that WE ALL must stand up for.

THE ONLY WAY these children have any hope of making it through the crappy hand of cards they have been dealt is if there are adults around them who are willing to look through the perfect parent persona facade and LISTEN TO THE TEEN who is in pain. And then DO SOMETHING.

How are YOU stopping this cycle?

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
National Runaway Safeline: 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929)
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

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