Trying times: What local experts see

September 17, 2010 

Dr. Rene Bravo, San Luis Obispo pediatrician:

“I’ve been around these woods for around 25 years, and I’ve never seen it like it is now. The stress on young families is enormous, and I would say that the economy has had a significant impact on them.”

Patricia Oliveros, a family advocate at Judkins and Mesa middle schools in Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande. She works for the nonprofit group The LINK. “I had a couple of teachers who said ‘Why can’t they just behave? Why can’t they act normal?’ I said, ‘What is normal? Normal for them is getting home and having three different families in the living room or bedroom. Where do they do their homework? In the kitchen? Where?”

Tracy Buckingham, assistant director, county Department of Social Services: “We are getting more calls about the frustration of parents, and they are taking it out on their kids. Most of the time, when we get there, the parents are mortified they’ve hit a child or they’ve done anything.”

Jim Roberts, CEO of Family Care Network, Inc., a nonprofit children and family services agency that serves San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties:

“We have seen kids that are much more self-destructive than we’ve ever seen. They want to jump out in front of a car or cut themselves. We’ve had 10- and 12-year-olds that are assaultive and aggressive and angry.”

Kathy Hannemann, assistant superintendent for educational services at the Atascadero Unified School District:

“There’s been a significant increase in drug and alcohol discipline. I believe it is a manifestation of student anxiety. They’re stressed and they’re self-medicating.”

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