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School Counselors Say They're Witnessing "Highest Level Of Anxiety" And Depression They've Ever Seen In Students

By Gina Florio··  4 min read
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The botched response to coronavirus has affected our society and culture in irreparable ways, particularly when it comes to school-aged children. It's still hard to believe that kids went as long as they did learning virtually and being separated from their peers.

We are seeing the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic unfold before our eyes. In April, the New York Times issued a survey to try to better understand how kids were behaving in school. This survey was sent to 362 school counselors nationwide, and the results are sad to say the least. Children were the ones who suffered the most from the coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions, and now we're witnessing an incredibly unhappy, maladjusted generation of youth that may soon become troubled adults.

School Counselors Say They're Witnessing "Highest Level of Anxiety" and Depression

Almost all of the counselors—94% to be exact—said their students were showing higher levels of anxiety and depression than before the pandemic. Nearly 90% of them were also struggling to control their emotions, and 75% had trouble solving conflicts with their peers. None of this is surprising considering the fact that school districts locked down the schools and left the kids at home isolated for nearly two years. Many of us predicted this would happen, but we were just gaslit and laughed off at the time.

The counselors also said that 72% were breaking classroom rules regularly, 86% couldn't focus on classwork, 67% were showing signs of low self-esteem, and 59% were having trouble making new friends. There were also very high numbers of students who were vandalizing school property, chronically skipping out on school, and engaging in sexual behavior that wasn't age appropriate.

“They have less stamina; more frustration; less flexibility; less effort; less perseverance; more escape and avoidance behaviors,” Cassie Cerny, an elementary school counselor in Wisconsin told the NYT.

A high school counselor in Chicago, Jennifer Fine, talked about how academic performance certainly wasn't the only thing disrupted during the lockdowns. “Something that we continuously come back to is that our ninth graders were sixth graders the last time they had a normative, uninterrupted school year," she said. "Developmentally, our students have skipped over crucial years of social and emotional development.”

Susan Julien of Fall River Elementary School in Colorado added, "Kids have the highest level of anxiety I've ever seen: anxiety about basic safety and fear of what could happen." Another counselors from Oregon said she has seen more physical fights this year than all over her 15 years in the profession combined.

On top of that, many schools are severely understaffed, making it incredibly hard for the students to receive all the help and assistance they need. A middle counselor in Connecticut said, “With 375 students, my biggest fear is missing a kid. What if a kid tells me they are hurting themselves and I didn’t get a chance to see them because of the amount of other duties that I am doing? I can’t handle this by myself.”

Suicide Rates Have Also Increased Since the Coronavirus Lockdowns

We learned in April from the CDC that nearly half of all high school students in the U.S. reported feeling sad or hopeless in the last year and one in every five teenagers considered suicide. Teachers have spoken up about the devastating numbers of students who express sadness and suicidal thoughts.

What the federal and local government did to students with the arbitrary, damaging lockdowns is absolutely unforgivable, especially when you consider how little kids are affected by coronavirus. There are very real consequences to locking children up for nearly two years, taking them away from their friends, and robbing them of experiences that will not only help them learn and grow but will also teach them important emotional and social skills.

The fact that mainstream media outlets like the NYT are just now speaking out about the devastating effects of the lockdowns is even more ludicrous—these were the very publications in favor of shutting down the entire country to protect children from a virus that hardly had a negative effect on them. And now that the evidence is mounted against them, they're willing to uncover the truth. Too little, too late.

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