Opinion: Pressures of the past year land heavily on Calgary youth

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Without the guidance of well-intentioned adult mentors and professionals, many young people may seek solace in the dark path of addiction and other dangerous coping strategies. We need to look no further than the current opioid crisis facing our country and the devastation it has unleashed on countless families to understand the incredible risk of inaction when it comes to mental health.

Add to this the increasing victimization of children by predators taking advantage of our children and youth who are spending time online for school and social connection. According to the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team, reported incidents of online child exploitation totalled 243 last March, more than double the monthly average.

With the holidays behind us and the new year dawned, we all talk a big game about clean slates and starting fresh. It’s time to direct this renewed hope and energetic optimism towards our youth. They’ve waited long enough.

Many of us are parents, aunts, uncles and neighbours who have been watching our teens suffer in full sight or, more concerningly, in silence. With a teenage daughter of my own, I have witnessed first-hand how this segment of the population has been ignored during this crisis. Used, even, as scapegoats for broader incompetencies, then expected to shoulder an imbalanced burden of our redress.

I am the CEO of one of Calgary’s longest-standing first-responding agencies. We serve more than 40,000 Calgarians a year. I could tell you everything we’re doing to help our kids thrive, but this isn’t about me, or carya, or all that we have done. This is about what we have yet to do for our youth and their families who are willing to do whatever it takes to carve a hopeful path.

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