All around the world, people have been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic and the pursuant lockdowns that followed. Many people have been negatively affected by this crisis not just economically and physiologically, but mentally and emotionally as well. The worst of which is America’s youth. School is a place where a child’s mind can improve, learn and grow socially, emotionally, and psychologically.
Emotional intelligence is one of the key factors of child development in schools because that social interaction from student to student and teacher to teacher is what provides that critical foundation for kids to become stable adults. As one study from the University of Oxford points out:
“Parents/carers of children aged 4–10 years of age reported that over a one-month period in lockdown, they saw increases in their child’s emotional difficulties, such as feeling unhappy, worried, being clingy and experiencing physical symptoms associated with worry,”
This study was conducted with more than 10,000 people and demonstrated just what kinds of negative effects the Covid-19 lockdown has on our youth. The study also made note of the fact that children were more likely to engage in temper tantrums when they wouldn’t normally otherwise. While trapping someone inside and noticing behavior problems in them might not be obvious to some people, it should be abundantly clear to most that socially isolating a child away from their friends and fellow classmates has and still will have negative consequences on their health. A behaviour study done in the Shaanxi Province of China found that children became more clingy than normal and showed signs of irritability, fear of contraction of the virus, and depression from ‘missing school’.
Social development is one of the most critical factors for a child’s development and many people take school for granted in regard to its ability to increase their social ability. Historically, schools were originally instituted to give parents a palace to keep their kids while they worked. However, there is a powerful hidden benefit behind group learning and interaction. Aside from extra help in school, school counseling is a service that parents rely on heavily for their child to gain control and discipline over their mental health or behaviour. Interacting with other kids grants our youth the ability to develop social cues and language skills that wouldn’t otherwise have been able to learn from sitting at home in isolation with their family. Younger minds are like sponges that are constantly learning. By isolating them from essentially everything from the outside world, people basically starve that mind from the critical input necessary for the Child’s development. As the CDC points out:
“An environment where students feel safe and connected, such as a school, is associated with lower levels of depression, thoughts about suicide, social anxiety, and sexual activity, as well as higher levels of self-esteem and more adaptive use of free time”
By effectively robbing children of these benefits from schools, they become less likely to succeed while developing PTSD in the process. For Americans, this is especially disconcerting because while other countries have only been locked down for two weeks to a month at most due to the two weeks lifespan of the virus, the United States has been locked down for almost four months. This especially doesn’t make any sense when you consider that the odds of catching a virus indoors is almost nineteen times more likely to occur than outdoors. Studies like these make lockdown seem almost unnecessary. On top of all of this data even, it was recently discovered that Covid doesn’t spread that easily on contaminated surfaces and children were less likely to get it and become horribly affected by it than the actual flu when compared to the last five flu seasons in the United States.
With all of this known, it’s hard to understand why American children haven’t been placed back into schools sooner. Other countries in the European Union for example, have already begun opening their schools back up to their children. Why can’t the United States? It seems abundantly clear that children have been severely impacted by this pandemic negatively in regard to their mental health. The USA has been locked down for much longer than most other countries, but yet, we still seem to ignore our data to the detriment of our youth and the greater american community. It’s time for the children to go back to School!