Parents often don’t take talk of suicide by young children seriously because they think kids don’t understand the concept. But they do.
The Children’s Institute building on Harbor-UCLA’s campus is surrounded by playgrounds. The inside is decorated in lively colors, and it’s neatly cluttered with toys and children. It looks like Crayola designed a home inviting visitors to come play.
Many of the children here have been expelled from regular preschool.
Most of my patients are low-income and many have faced adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, which can cause lifelong physical and mental health problems. After years of working with low-income families, I’ve come to believe that combating ACEs contributes as much to a child’s academic success as learning the ABCs. That’s why Head Start is one of my weapons in the War on Poverty. It changes lives, one kid at a time.
I visited LA Kitchen, in part as a pediatrician, to learn about a career resource for my older foster-care patients. Transitional age youths are 16 to 24 years old and often age out of the system with a limited ability to support themselves.
Working in South LA, I see a lot of children living on the fringes and whom, at times, society wishes they could forget. Many of the kids are poor, hungry, mistreated, immigrants and minorities. Some are also homeless.
But these children are part of our community and they need us to look out for them. I tell their stories hoping that they won’t be forgotten.
Four out of every five homeless people are sober. Drugs are one reason why many people end up homeless, but they aren’t the only one.
Whenever I tell my story, people are always amazed at how easy it is to unravel a seemingly secure life.
Years have passed since I took care of 16-year-old Andy, but I’ll never forget him or his story.
As he sat in my exam room about half a decade ago, Andy, whose name has been changed, told me that his mom had kicked him out of the house when he told her he was gay.
He was 14.
Children living in high poverty neighborhoods—a disproportionate number of whom are children of color—are more likely to die from child abuse.
My patients in my clinic in South Los Angeles are children from high poverty areas. However, regardless of where they practice, pediatricians have a critical role in the recognition and prevention of child abuse.
The second week after school starts, kids with respiratory illnesses—everything from simple colds to asthma attacks—fill my clinic. As a pediatrician I expect this.
But this year was different. Many of the kids had atypically high fevers and body aches with their coughs and congestion. They had influenza.
I was in a terrible car accident shortly after my 18th birthday. I had three surgeries that were supposed to help relieve my pain. They didn’t. OxyContin, an opioid pain-relief medication, was my best friend until it was my only friend.