THE true victims of Covid-19 are not only those who died, but the generations forsaken to walk around in the wreckage created by society’s reaction for the rest of their lives. The extent of the damage that adults have inflicted on the young will be a rolling headline hereafter, ensuring that the so-called ‘Generation Z’ becomes known as ‘Generation A’ for ‘Generation Abandoned’.
Since March 2020, when many adults began to see children as killers to be avoided whenever possible, a fundamental change of attitude saw an abnegation of the age-old societal duty to put children first. Adults – and not only the old – have been encouraged to believe in their absolute entitlement to life, and that their lives and personal safety take primacy over the younger generation’s education, life chances, aspirations and mental health. They are truly Generation Selfish.
The past 17 months for far too many children has been little more than YouTube and TikTok, attached not to each other nor to people in general, but to a virtual existence. Strangers thousands of miles away have substituted for friends, real friends have become photos, all while sunlight, activity and fresh air was blocked out of their sedentary screen lives.
The ghastly consequences for children’s fundamental development were revealed last week. A US study found that those born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor and overall cognitive performance compared with children born before. This decrease was so noticeable that the leading researcher stated, ‘you don’t typically see things like that, outside of major cognitive disorders’.
Blame has turned on parents for not stimulating their infants enough, but the truth surely is that lockdown policies, which left millions of parents with their children under house arrest in small flats without gardens, are the real culprit.
It is little wonder that ‘children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing has been substantially impaired’ as a result of Government disproportionate anti-Covid over-reactions. A recent YouGov survey of 2,000 teenagers found that 64 per cent of them felt lonely.
It is an indictment of the government and of our society. It used to be the case that parents provided the major supporting role for their children, but school closure revealed how many were unable to step up to the plate and meet their children’s extra needs. For many lockdown was the final straw. Programmed by the government’s fear campaign, they either had to leave their children home alone while they continued to work, or struggle to ‘home’ work at the same time as schooling their children in the absence of other normal activities and grandparent support systems. It was cruel. No wonder that for far too many children the internet became their refuge.
The education system in the UK – hardly something to be proud of – fell to new lows, with teachers’ unions leading the Generation Selfish drive to lock children out of school, relinquishing their responsibility for children’s education and wellbeing. Most children missed several months of school over lockdown and continue to do so as irrational social distancing and quarantine rules continue to keep them from attending.
But still the penny has not dropped.
Vociferous and specious arguments continue against sending pupils back to school full-time next month. Teachers still threaten disruption if they are. The fearmongering for next term has already begun: we are told there will be the umpteenth wave of Covid-19 if children go back to school.
Yet a study by Shamez Ladhani, an epidemiologist from Public Health England, discovered that children, contrary to perceived wisdom, ‘aren’t taking [the virus] home and then transferring it to the community’.
As long as this mistaken thinking persists, the prognosis for children, already deprived of so much education, is bleak. Research since the emergence of Covid-19 from the Netherlands – a much stronger country academically than the UK – found that students made little to no progress academically during their much shorter eight-week lockdown. The average learning loss was 20 per cent of the school year in just eight weeks. Unsurprisingly this learning loss rose to 60 per cent amongst children from poorer backgrounds. Imagine, then, the effect upon those children who have barely been to school in the past 17 months.
Can anything justify such destruction to the future of our societies, let alone a virus with a case fatality rate of zero among nought-to-nine-year-olds, of 0.2 per cent for 10 to 19 years old and an overall Covid survival rate of 99.5 per cent? Are children’s futures to be sacrificed on this altar of deception?
What, the delusional adult safety-ists must ask, does the future hold if the vast majority of its people have grown up in societies that don’t even treat children’s psychological and educational needs as an afterthought, but neglect them altogether, permanently damaging their cognitive development, educational potential and social ability?
This is the Covid generation that the future depends on: a generation who were given top grades without having to work for their results, children (and parents) who were held hostage over vaccination – their return to school threatened if they and their parents didn’t comply. They have been given no empathy, and in return they are unlikely to give any to these adults who treated them so badly, when they are old and subject to the vicissitudes of the elderly care system
Before it is too late, and in face of the conclusive evidence of damage, children must be allowed to start living their lives again, and be assured of a future free from lockdown, masks, testing and all other arbitrary and abusive social distancing and quarantine rules. Above all, given a commitment to the same educational rights and privileges that their parents and grandparents had.