Restore Pre-Pandemic Freedom, For the Children
The year-plus of the pandemic has been an unpleasant experiment in just how far previously free-ish countries could be subjected to command-and-control systems without exciting rebellion and pushing them past the breaking point. The uncomfortable evidence is that many people willingly suffer massive impositions before resisting, though others chafe and are eager to resume some semblance of normal life. But how much damage has been done to children who have been at the mercy of officials who seized control and adults who failed to resist? In an era when every policy seems to be justified as “for the children,” pandemic lockdown pain is definitely something done to them.
“The coronavirus pandemic has been hitting adolescents hard,” science journalist Melinda Wenner Moyer noted last week in UnDark. “During the teen years, friendships matter more than almost everything else… But this year, teens have been forced to stay home and avoid real-world interactions with their friends. They have had to spend their days denied of their deepest needs while, in some cases, taking on more responsibilities — yet without many of the emotional supports they had in the past.”
“Rarely have America’s children suffered so many blows, and all at once, as during the pandemic’s lost year, Andrea Petersen reported in a similar piece for the Wall Street Journal. “The crisis has hit children on multiple fronts. Many have experienced social isolation during lockdowns, family stress, a breakdown of routine and anxiety about the virus.”
Both stories cite awful examples, and science supports the anecdotes.
“Posttraumatic, anxiety, and depression disorders are expected during and aftermath of the pandemic,” cautioned a September 2020 article in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. “Some groups, like children, have more susceptibility to having long term consequences in mental health.”
“[C]hildren’s depression ratings significantly increased during the lockdown, relative to 18 months beforehand,” found a November 2020 article on the results of lockdowns in the UK in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
From April through October of 2020, emergency room visits in the United States for mental health reasons increased by 24 percent for kids 5- to 11-years-old, and by 31 percent for 12- to 17-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Anecdotally, my wife, a pediatrician, has seen a huge surge in depression, anxiety, and self-harm in the months of the pandemic. Deprived of social interaction with classmates, teammates, and friends for a
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