“Looking at children was the real shocker for us”

U.S. children are posting sharp increases in drug use for chronic illnesses — one-quarter of all insured children and 30 percent of adolescents, according to a health company study. A large portion of these are antipsychotic and diabetes drugs.

What are we to make of this? The doctor who led the study is fairly blunt: “All these adult drugs are popping up in children,” he says, “which is really disturbing.”

What’s happening, in other words, is that we’ve spread the diseases of our souls to our children. It used to be that one had to accumulate many wounds, and fall away from any grounding faith, before one succumbed to self-destruction. Now we see children riven with anger and self-hatred, or so imprisoned by their physical wants that they are quite literally eating (or drinking, or doping, or copulating) themselves to death.

But soul sickness is not something the secularist — and increasingly the polite Christian — can allow himself to think on, if only because he has no notion of how it might be cured. So, like the man who loses his keys in the dark alley, but searches under the bright streetlight around the corner, we turn to answers that are safer. And a pill, for a busy parent who dare not look at what is becoming of his tormented child, is definitely safer.

To be sure, there are certainly children afflicted with unpreventable mental illnesses and imbalances. But the sharp rise in antipsychotic use suggests — unless there has been some recent evolution in pediatric physiology — that we have entered the realm of the preventable, our course abetted by hopeless parents and harried doctors. The accompanying rise in obesity, meanwhile, is just short of criminal, though too many of us have grown so stupid about what we eat that one can blame the parents of fat children no more than one can blame a child who gets hold of a loaded gun.

What all this means for the future of the country remains to be seen, but I can’t help but think there will be an accounting for many of us, if not in this life, then in the next.