twelve o’clock, March 22 2021 – 07:49

Paolo Siani has tried to indicate what the community can do to help reduce the effects of the emotional tsunami that is upsetting the lives of our children.

of Antonio Polito

ASome children and adolescents live the rules of this closure with aggression, impatience, intolerance, they often become aggressive towards family members or turn aggression towards themselves, sometimes exceeding the threshold of self-harm. Others isolate themselves by remaining closed in their own room. Anyone who is a parent recognizes exactly in these words what is happening in our families these days. We must therefore thank Paolo Siani, pediatrician and deputy of the Democratic Party, for having written them effectively in a parliamentary resolution presented to Montecitorio together with twelve other colleagues. In fact, Siani tries to bring back into the public debate what has hitherto remained confined to private experience.

Try to indicate what the community can do to help reduce the effects of a real emotional tsunami that is upsetting the lives of our children, and for which we as parents are even more unprepared than ever.

The damage that domestic isolation, the prolonged closure of the school, the interruption of physical contacts between peers, the absence of spaces of autonomy not supervised or managed by adults, are causing to the mental health of minors are in fact more serious and lasting. than we could perhaps have imagined at the beginning of the pandemic. In the first months we said to each other: well, at least we will be with the boys a little longer, we will take care of them more, we will do more things together, perhaps not all evil comes to harm.

In many cases and in many families this effort has been made, and it cannot be denied that it has also produced results. But – as Tolstoy wrote – every family is unhappy in its own way, and in the interstices of a daily life more and more closed within the four walls of the house, however careful and sensitive the parents may be, stressors lurk, as Siani calls them, potentially very dangerous. After all, it is enough to talk to the family pediatrician to find out how many reports come from the families, how many indications of a condition of suffering of minors: “somatic symptoms, extreme fear of getting sick, reduced concentration, deflated mood, lack of energy, anger and aggression, abuse of alcohol, tobacco and substances, onset of post-traumatic stress disorders, anxiety disorders, phobias, mood disorders, thought disorders “(I still use the scientific terminology of Dr. Siani).

What to do? First of all two things: to put an end to the acute phase of the infection and thus to reopen the schools. The objectives that concern the entire national community coincide in fact with the interests of our children. If the vaccination campaign hurries up, perhaps we can send them back to class before the end of the school year: they will resume meeting other peers, and will be able to start again under the guidance of professional educators that process of growth so abruptly interrupted. But from here to then, many other things can be done. Siani’s resolution commits the government to a series of measures that put the mental and physical health of the youngest at the center of a national effort that has not yet taken place.

Above all, it is a question of strengthening territorial medicine, in particular neuropsychiatric and preventive medicine, starting from the clinics of family pediatricians, and this especially in the South, where, as always, the emergency has aggravated a gap in services already serious at the start, and in those urban areas, such as Naples, where in certain neighborhoods there is not even a lawn, but only houses on houses, tar and concrete, or tangles of alleys and dilapidation that social distancing can make real prisons.

The figure of the psychologist should also be established within the pediatric and neonatal departments, with particular reference to chronic conditions, psycho-social discomfort; strengthen the activities of the educational communities that welcome minors with mental discomfort; prepare territorial conditions for meeting and confrontation by enhancing the third sector, voluntary work, oratory, scouts, as important resources for weaving a network of inclusion and help for the most fragile minors.

I endorse each of these proposals and I hope that Parliament will soon be able to deal with them. I also know for, as every parent knows, that the front line of this battle for the psychic well-being of children passes through our families. That we parents are the first educators. And that to do our difficult job well, we must first become aware of the problem in order to be able to face it. This is why every contribution to the discussion is precious. Especially if it comes from people with competence. After all, this too – and not just organizational measures and allocations of public money – serves the parliamentary initiative: to create the conditions for an informed debate, capable of arousing individual responsibility. In short, we must begin to do more first in our homes. Don’t just ask yourself what the state can do for you – John Kennedy said – but also what you can do for the state. And all of us for our children.

March 22, 2021 | 07:49

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