WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH, SOLUTIONS TEND TO BE SIMPLE, AT LEAST AS offered: get a job, get back on the horse, take this pill, work harder, spend less, follow this diet. We are counseled that “less is more,” to “keep it simple” and “just get over it.” But some problems take time to sort out. They do not lend themselves to a quick fix but involve extended attention of some sort—out in the world, at home, or within one’s self. A current running through this issue of The Hedgehog Review is that of the temptations and potential dangers of the quick fix.
Not that quick fixes are inherently bad things—replacing the battery on a beeping smoke alarm is an instantly welcomed quick fix for all present. But taking a pill to address a problem might not be the best path. Sometimes there are systemic issues to address. In the case of child misbehavior, it may be a chronic sleep deficit, over- crowded school conditions, or overstimulation from too much screen time and too many screens. Or it may be that the child does, indeed, need medication. But if the response to emotional and behavioral problems is immediately one of medication, how will these systemic issues be recognized and addressed? If medicine is the only genre of solution, then only one genre of problem will be visible—those that can be fixed by drugs. Julie Zito offers some data on the rising medication rates of children, at younger and younger ages, and suggests medication needs to be supplemented by other modes of care for the young. She also highlights the ways that economic factors may be influencing which children receive which drugs and at what doses and calls for more attention to the many worrisome trends in this area.