Out of the Darkness

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The impacts of family dysfunction and addiction on kids like Kyla
are hard to measure, and some may not be apparent for years. Kyla’s
mom worries about that, knowing that her daughter bears scars and
impressions that cannot be erased. Some of the fallout is already
evident. Kyla struggles with anger — at her mother and father. She
still lives in “survival mode” — wearing three and four layers of
clothing, stashing money and bits of food — because she went for
years living in hunger and poverty. She’s been diagnosed with
depression. Her vocabulary is rich in profanity, and her street
knowledge can make most adults blush.

“She knows way too much for a child her age,” observes her school
principal.

Despite all this, Kyla — like all the other children out there
who face challenges — is still a child with a world full of
potential ahead of her. And things are looking up. Her grades have
stabilized at As and Bs, she’s much more likely to flash a smile
than her temper, and she has a best friend — the first in her
life. She’s excited about school and her upcoming birthday party.
And she’s proud of her mom. Now that’s something to
celebrate.

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At Risk, At a Glance

Half of all American children will witness the breakup
of their parents’ marriage.
(Furstenberg, Peterson,
Nord, and Zill, “Life Course”)

20 percent of all adolescents suffer from serious
emotional or behavioral problems.
(Catholic Education
Resource Center)

Approximately 6 million children live with a parent
who’s abused an illicit drug in the past month.

(National Institute on Drug Abuse)

By eighth grade, 52 percent of kids have consumed
alcohol, 41 percent have smoked cigarettes, and 20 percent have
used marijuana.
(Innovators Combating Substance
Abuse)

10 to 20 percent of children are at risk of exposure to
domestic violence.
(childwelfare.gov)

More than half a million children are currently in
foster care.
(The Heritage Foundation)

     

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