The reports by Ofsted, NFER and by the head of the Speech and Language Unit in Northern Ireland highlighted the devastating impact of Covid policy on the education and development of children in the U.K.
This article addresses the damage to children beyond education and the impact on children across the world and poses the question, “Was it worth it?”
There is a huge amount of evidence about the damage caused by COVID-19 restrictions to children’s mental health. The impact has been alarming.
In a report by Collateral Global, eight out of ten children and adolescents report an increase in negative feelings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School closures contributed to increased anxiety, loneliness and stress; negative feelings due to COVID-19 increased with the duration of school closures.
The Hart Group’s detailed research reported:
One in six children were reporting significant mental health problems and, by winter, one in four young people felt ‘unable to cope’. In autumn 2020, Ofsted (the schools inspectorate in England) identified a worrying increase in self-harm and eating disorders, while lockdowns evoked an ‘explosion’ of children with disabling tic disorders. This surge in mental health problems led to record numbers of children being prescribed antidepressants. The cumulative mental health consequences of 18 months of pandemic restrictions was summarised in a recent comprehensive review of the research evidence, carried out by Collateral Global, which concluded that the impact on children and adolescents was ‘severe’, with 80% of young people reporting a deterioration in their emotional wellbeing.
In a letter during the second lockdown in January 2021, ten of the U.K.’s top experts in child health said anxiety, depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts reached frightening levels among children as they struggled to cope with school closures.
The letter, signed Professor Claire Hogg, Dr. Ian Balfour Lynn and Professor Sejal Saglani and others, added: “As in the first lockdown, we are witnessing an acute and rapid increase in mental health and safeguarding cases affecting children and parents alike.”