A new report from Children’s Health shows an increase in children experiencing anxiety caused by gun violence in schools, COVID-19 and potential harmful effects of social media.

The overview

Children’s Health released the 18th edition of “Beyond ABC: Assessing the Well-Being of Children in North Texas” at a Nov. 14 symposium, according to a news release.

The Beyond ABC report examines four major areas impacting children in Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Fannin, Grayson and Tarrant counties. The areas include:
  • Pediatric health
  • Economic security
  • Safety
  • Education
The report aims to identify key trends and potential improvements in each area, according to a media advisory. Children’s Health has published a new report every two years since 1996, according to its website.

The full report can be viewed online at www.childrens.com/beyondabc.

Quote of note

“The Children’s Health Beyond ABC report seeks to identify and to better understand the complex factors that impact the health and welfare of our children today,” Children’s Health President and CEO Chris Durovich said in a statement. “The challenges confronting children and their loved ones are real, but they are surmountable and are achievable. Through this report, we hope to spark a dialogue that will lead to solutions to improve the health and well-being of children today and for generations to come.”

The details

The report calls for strengthening mental and behavioral health care for children and adolescents, according to an executive summary. Data indicates more children than ever are experiencing increased anxiety.

About 22% of middle school and high school students across the U.S. contemplated suicide in 2021. Mental health struggles can expose children to higher risks of abusing drugs, contracting sexually transmitted infections and HIV, and becoming pregnant, according to the report.

Nearly 182,000 Texas children are estimated to have abused substances, but only 5% receive treatment through public resources and programs, the report states.

In addition, nearly 13% of Texas children don’t have health insurance, according to the report. That figure is more than double the national average, which is about 5%.

The takeaway

Recommendations from the report include:
  • Pediatric health: Improve health coverage for uninsured children and families, and remove barriers to high-quality, culturally competent care.
  • Economic security: Increase access to affordable housing in North Texas, and mitigate the impact of inflation on children’s health.
  • Safety: Combat substance use and abuse in children and adolescents, and improve student safety and strengthen protections for children against online threats.
  • Education: Provide mental health support and training for teachers and school staff members, and prioritize social and emotional learning.