Over the past year and a half, COVID has impacted every demographic in some form or fashion. While children have been the least affected group physically, they’re likely the most affected in other tragic ways.
Forced to isolate from friends and family, learn in a virtual setting, wear masks, and even forced to receive the vaccine, the generation of children growing up in the pandemic and post-pandemic world will undoubtedly suffer negative long-term psychological effects.
Are Kids As Resilient As We Think?
The argument from the higher-ups that have pushed for virtual school, masks for children, and youth vaccinations is that children are resilient and won’t suffer from such protocols and mandates. In many ways, children are very resilient. However, they’re also susceptible to receiving lasting scars from events that occur in their youth. Adults suffering from mental illnesses and disorders can very often trace their condition back to some trauma from their childhood. A worldwide upheaval like COVID is sure to leave scars on many as they age.
Children are the casualty of the way the pandemic has been handled by both the federal and state governments. Virtual school has robbed kids across the nation of their main source of socializing. Children need socialization in order to thrive. The shutdown gave children the opposite — isolation — and the consequences are already tangible. Social distancing and school closures have caused an increase in mental health issues for adolescents due to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Virtual school has robbed kids across the nation of their main source of socializing.
Masks have also severely impacted the mental health of children. Though their effectiveness in preventing the spread of COVID-19 has been highly debated, mask mandates (affecting all over the age of 2) were widespread for over a year. Masks inhibit proper human interaction, thereby increasing stress and anxiety in individuals — especially young adults who are still developing mentally and emotionally. A study from the CDC shows that the levels of anxiety and depression in young adults have increased by 63% since the start of the pandemic. Young people are certainly not benefitting from mask wearing. At best, they’re just suffering from worsened facial acne. At worst, they’re contemplating suicide due to depression.
Aside from these psychological effects, children are also starting to see harmful physical effects — not from COVID itself, but from the push to vaccinate against the virus. Encouraging healthy children to be vaccinated is extremely misguided. Studies have shown little to no benefits from children receiving the vaccine. However, several negative side effects — including life-threatening myocarditis — have been noted.
We Need to Protect Children, Not the Other Way Around
So far, COVID-19 has not proven harmful to children. Why, then, are we pushing youth into measures that are not only not beneficial to their health, but are actually very harmful to their physical and psychological well-being?
Many will claim that the aim is to protect adults who are more vulnerable. There are two main issues with this argument though. Firstly, science doesn’t back it. Studies have shown that children are not transmitters. Adults — not school-aged children — are the main drivers of the pandemic’s spread. Secondly, since when are children responsible for protecting adults? When did we decide that it’s okay to risk the welfare of children in order to better safeguard the health of adults? Why have children been deemed the suffering servants?
When did we decide that it’s okay to risk the welfare of children to better safeguard the health of adults?
As a society, we need to take a serious look at the way in which the handling of the pandemic has impacted and continues to impact our youth. We need to consider whether or not it’s worth it to damage an entire generation of children in order to help adults feel less at risk. Are the benefits of the measures we have taken (if there are any) really outweighing the risks that they pose to children? I would argue that the answer is a very easy no.
A year and a half into the pandemic, it’s time that we really start following the science and stop putting children at risk for lasting consequences. They need to be free to see their friends, walk the halls of their schools, go to baseball practice, interact without masks — and do all of this unvaccinated. Allowing this return to normalcy will drastically minimize the profound adverse social and developmental consequences that children have thus far suffered.
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