Doc: Children Feel Weight Of Recession

Dr. Alvin Poussaint of the Harvard Medical School told Bob Schieffer on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that children are being disproportionately affected by the recession.

"Children need to feel safe, secure and protected. And the economic downturn makes them feel the opposite, and they can see it in their own families or in the families of their friends," Poussaint said.

He added that children "go to school. They hear about people losing their jobs. They know that things have had to be cut back in their own homes, so I think they're feeling a lot of tension."

The doctor said that children are feeling a loss just like their parents and that, disturbingly, child abuse, neglect and domestic violence rates are up, which "severely impacts children not just in the here and now, but also in the future."

He argued that loss of jobs and homelessness has also led to malnutrition in young Americans.

Schieffer asked if the impact of this recession was similar to that of the Great Depression, and Poussaint said no.

He said that growing up in an East Harlem tenement during the Depression he had very little but, "we just took that as, well, that's the way the world is. We didn't say we were poor, but we didn't have very much."

"I think today's children have been used to much more affluence," he argued.

He did note that he thinks minorities are suffering disproportionately in this recession.

What can parents do to help the children of the recession?

Be optimistic, Poussaint says.

"Find out what they know. What do they know about a recession? Maybe they know about people losing their jobs. See what they know and what their concerns are, so that they can be addressed," he suggested.

"And the idea would be to reassure them."

Dr. Poussaint was interviewed from Portland Maine on "Face the Nation" this morning as part of CBS News' special coverage in partnership with USA Today of "Children of the Recession."