THE Telegraph lead on Wednesday was ‘Lockdown damage to children was preventable, Government told’. Indeed: we said this at the time.
We are told, ‘The harm caused to children by lockdown was preventable, leading charities and experts will tell the Government in a damning report. The Children’s Rights Organisations alliance says social distancing and the closure of schools and playgrounds during the Covid pandemic had “long-lasting and era-defining impacts”.’
The group, which includes Save the Children, Just for Kids Law and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, was established to give written evidence to the Covid Inquiry in a report entitled What About The Children?
The Telegraph says: ‘Its headline finding is that the “worst impacts of the pandemic for children could have been prevented if their voices were heard and if children’s rights were considered by UK decision-makers”.’
Let’s stop there. We applaud this joint effort by groups representing the rights of children to try to hold the government to account three years later. But I don’t remember them saying much at the time though, especially the big charities. The only group I remember objecting were the small group Us for Them, who got together in May 2020. And I certainly do not remember a single paper speaking up for children at the time when the damage was being inflicted, you know, when it actually mattered. They were too busy slapping the label ‘granny killer’ on anyone who dared challenge Matt Hancock and his various decisions to wreck the lives of children. Meanwhile TCW was among the very few reporting the damage being done.
In addition, we must ask why were the voices of those who represent the rights of children not considered by UK decision-makers during lockdown? Indeed, why were they never heard even in the media, the only thing that ‘decision-makers’ Boris Johnson and the evil Hancock actually listened to at a time of mass hysteria?
And why, at the time, did the Telegraph and other papers not express any reservations about the Counter-Disinformation Unit, proudly launched by Oliver Dowden on March 30, 2020? Why did they not, until June 2 this year, identify this as a problem; why did they not question this unit from the start?
Oh, yes, this brings us all the way round to our very own Ministry of Truth, Ofcom and how, as Kathy explained this week, we have been sleepwalking into state censorship and now it’s here.
This is why we keep banging on about state censorship and state media control. The point is that limiting what is said in the media on the issues of importance, at the time, has a very real impact. It means there was no opposition to the government and their dangerous and harmful policies which did so much harm to children.
This is why the blanket ban on any kind of criticism against lockdown as demanded by Ofcom, across the broadcasters, was something out of the USSR circa 1970s. It was not only morally wrong, but it was also an attack on those who would suffer the most from lockdown, children.
As Kathy said this week: ‘Far from holding the government to account for their ruthless crackdown on so called ‘false coronavirus information’, their Conservative MP-dominated ‘Misinformation in the Covid-19 Infodemic’ report pressed for further and more direct censorship by the government.’
So it’s all very well the government allowing an inquiry and letting children’s rights organisations point out the terrible fallout for children from lockdown. However, it would have been more helpful if broadcasters had invited some of these people on at the time to object to the closing of playgrounds (something so obviously unnecessary that the cruelty must have been the point) and schools.
What were some of those harms done to children? Well, says the Telegraph, ‘during the pandemic, the number of young people seeking help for mental health problems surged from 12.1 per cent of children in 2017 to 17.8 per cent last year. Last month, a survey of more than 6,000 parents in England found that lockdown had damaged the emotional development of almost half of children. Meanwhile, the proportion of pupils meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by the end of primary school fell from 65 per cent in 2018-19 to 59 per cent in 2022-23.’
Also, ‘Department for Education statistics show that school absences in England have risen by more than 50 per cent since 2019.’
And ‘early years experts were “particularly concerned” about children’s speech and language development, with some noticing delays in babies’ physical development after the closure of nurseries’.
But didn’t they know we had to ‘save the NHS’, sure there must be some old guy out there somewhere walking up and down his garden. Let’s give blanket media coverage to that guy, instead of asking ourselves if hindering the language and physical development of infants is worth it?
And let’s never forget that the government was monitoring the social media accounts of those who did dare question the lockdown narrative: ‘The Telegraph has also exposed how social media posts critical of Covid policies including the decision to close schools were monitored by the Government’s Counter-Disinformation Unit.’ Seriously, this would make a Stasi agent blush.
The overall point is, State censorship of government policies matters. It hurts us, it is undemocratic and it must be challenged.