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Public Safety

Many individuals struggle with their mental health and creating a stable lifestyle. Homelessness is one of the severe issues that needs fixing in the world. Mercy Housing published an article with 7 startling facts about homelessness in the United States.

First off, the homeless population in the United States could fill five football stadiums, as it was determined that 567,715 people were homeless on any given night in January of 2019, but this number still does not fully capture the state of homelessness in our country.

One in every 30 children, 2.5 million children per year, experience homelessness, which is roughly the entire population of Chicago.

Because children experience homelessness at such an early age, many have brain development setbacks that hinder their learning, handling of emotions, relationships, etc. and at least 40% of homeless school-age children have a mental health problem.

There are nearly 37,085 homeless veterans in the United States and more than half of them have a mental and/or physical disability. After fighting for our country, veterans are more likely than non-veterans to experience homelessness, mental health problems and substance abuse, as many struggle with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

On a single night in 2019, homeless services providers had more than 48,000 beds set aside for survivors of domestic violence. Survivors of domestic violence and abuse gather the courage to leave their situations even when they have nothing, increasing their risk of homelessness and lack of resources.

Being homeless decreases an individual’s life span by 20-30 years, as the average life expectancy of a homeless individual is 50 years old.

Finally, homelessness is a risk factor for anyone, as many live paycheck to paycheck and unexpected events turn people’s lives around for the worse.

Homelessness is a problem that will not go away on its own. People continue to provide support and resources for those in the community to fight this widespread problem but cannot do it alone. If you have the resources or time to volunteer or donate items, that little bit can go a long way for someone in need.

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Justice Reform

With criminal justice reform, comes discussions on focusing towards better serving children and teens on the autism spectrum who have become entangled in the juvenile justice system. Washington State University posted an article about how youth on the spectrum need more access to mental health support and programs. This would allow for them to have counseling and supporters that can advocate for their needs in the system.

A juvenile probation counselor in Washington’s Cowlitz County thinks more training is necessary for police and corrections officers to help them recognize signs of autism, as many do not realize the wide variety of signs that people can exhibit. According to the CDC data from 2016, 1 in 54 children in the United States have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls, making this a very real and relevant circumstance that officers or court officials will come into contact with a child suffering from autism.

With this comes the approach of transitioning from a punitive system to a more rehabilitative one to help youth and reduce recidivism. Effort must be put into creating more resources and support for children suffering from autism that are intertwined with the law. By taking a more rehabilitative approach, the juvenile justice system can improve recidivism rates and keep children out of prison. Individuals need to be more cognizant and supportive that children who suffer from autism do not necessarily realize right from wrong. Even though they may require more mental health support, they are children who wish to have a normal life and are as teachable as other children not suffering from autism.

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Public Safety

The Marcus Harris Foundation posted about children of incarcerated parents needing support now more than ever. COVID-19 continues to turn the lives of families, especially those incarcerated, upside down. Children with parents who are incarcerated already suffer from lack of resources and recognition but even more so now. The children are not the ones at fault for being incarcerated but continue to feel the full effect and problems that come with incarceration of a parent. These children miss out on celebrating major milestones with their parents and now with COVID-19 affecting visiting hours and interactions with family members in prison, children are suffering even more. They are unable to visit or talk to their parents and continually worry about whether they are okay and safe.

Children may not understand the direct issues and problems that come with COVID-19, but they certainly can sense the stress it is putting on their loved ones. Facilities are being shut down, there is a concern for lack of equipment and testing in jails and prisons, early releases of individuals and movements of criminal justice reform that are causing riots and distress. An organization, Our Children’s Place (OCP), is encouraging communities to consider what they can do to support children whose parents are incarcerated. Professionals are able to check in with children and see how they are doing, while providing materials and resources such as books and tool kits online for youth. The resources are made for the children but also provide information for their caregivers and family members about access to food, books and other types of distribution efforts for children with incarcerated parents.

Children are the next generation of the world and need to be supported and cared for by all to show them the endless possibilities that still exist, even if they have parents who struggle. Learn more about how you can help in a time of need by visiting Our Children’s Place website linked above.

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