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COVID policies: Stop treating children as political pawns

school, classroom, mask, student
Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

As America prepares to enter its third year of the COVID-19 global pandemic, an irrefutable and heartbreaking consensus is finally beginning to coalesce across social, economic, and even political classes: 

Children who are being isolated in their homes or clothed behind masks despite being at the least possible risk across all demographics, have borne the greatest burden psychologically, emotionally, and educationally for the onerous and ill-conceived virus-related restrictions that continue to threaten our rising generation. 

The explosion of the Omicron variant threatens to cause school and political officials to repeat the very same mistakes that sent our children into a downward spiral beginning in March of 2020. The old adage tells us insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different results. So why would anyone resort to the same failed policies of the past and simply hope for a better outcome in the future?   

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced that since the onset of COVID-19, teenage girls have seen a 50% increase in emergency room visits for suicide attempts. Depression and anxiety rates have skyrocketed, and overall malaise and unevenness have taken root among youth. With the lockdowns came the loss of emotionally stabilizing activities such as social gatherings, sporting competitions, and church attendance.    

The academic impact of school closures and remote learning has been catastrophic, disproportionately affecting minority and poor students who are not as well-resourced as their peers. Standardized testing scores are down across the board. While some children have bounced back, many have not and are now mired in a dysfunctional and destructive cycle of failure. 

Screen time has increased exponentially for everyone, especially for young people, where it has doubled from pre-pandemic levels. At a critical time of relational, in-person development, virtual has become reality. Teens would rather text than talk — a trend that will have far-reaching social implications as young people grow up and enter the professional workforce.  

Tragically, individuals who should know better have instilled a spirit of fear in many students. Even though children are at greater risk of driving in a car than contracting COVID-19, counselors report that a widespread paralyzing psychosis has emerged. Instead of serving as a calming voice of reason, some adults have contributed to the escalating hysteria — ignoring the facts for fleeting and misguided feelings, along with politically motivated concerns surrounding the virus. Never mind reality. Instead, they’ve developed a George Costanza philosophy – “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” 

What went wrong and why are we still at risk for it happening again? 

For several generations now, American children have been caught in the crosshairs of a cultural and political battle. In fact, they have become victimized by individuals obsessed with revolutionizing societal norms. To the left, children are used and abused as political pawns. They are seen as expendable and forgettable casualties in this dangerous and destructive social experiment. 

For these radicals, COVID-19 is seen as a crisis and opportunity to exploit. It’s being used as an extension or version of an ongoing campaign to radically change cultural norms regarding the government’s relationship and control of education and children. Rather than protecting, defending, and sacrificing for children and their interests, these ideologues are determined to serve their own selfish dreams and desires. 

Now we have the rise of the “Mama Bear Movement.” This movement is an informal but determined coalition of mothers banding together to defend and protect against an aggressive and progressive attack on their children. It is the conservative response to this leftist overreach. I welcome and celebrate it. 

A post-mortem reckoning of virus-related policies and their deleterious impact on children is coming, and not a minute too soon for the sake of our young and the rest of society. 

Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of its National Radio Hall of Fame-honored daily broadcast, heard by more than 5.5 million listeners a week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S. Follow Jim Daly on Twitter @Dalyfocus Follow Jim Daly on Facebook Follow Jim Daly’s blog at DalyFocus

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