Children: A Lost Generation?

January 9, 2023

The pandemic has taken a serious life-altering toll on the mental and physical condition of children. What can be done to reverse this dangerous situation to restore their health and well-being?

The child in America is at the mercy of the adult population. What I mean is that their lives are caught up in the actions and decisions of their elders. Children must rely on their parents to protect and care for them, see to their education and healthcare, build character, instill decency and integrity, and direct the course of their lives until they reach an age where they can care for themselves as upstanding citizens.

The world is filled with predators of one sort or another, selfish and depraved, who prey on the young for their minds and their bodies. This condition has existed since time immemorial, and will not end any time soon. Throughout history, the pain and hardship, from the death and devastation of apocalyptic events such as war, pestilence, and famine, the sins inflicted on mankind by the power-hungry and the evil have not spared the children.

You would think that over the centuries, however, those charged with overseeing the preservation and progress of their people would have learned from experience how best to serve especially the children. But sadly that is not the case. Children today are threatened and subjected to harm and violence, both physically and mentally, perhaps more than at any time in recent memory.

,In the year 2020 the world was plagued by a pandemic of epic proportions. Millions of men, women, and children succumbed to the deadly virus, thousands were hospitalized. The American people lost family and friends; an estimated 99 million cases have been reported to date, with over 1 million deaths. Of this number, to date, approximately 900 were children, ages 0-17, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. As tragic as these figures are, the assault on children has not stopped there.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the effects on children have been dire. According to the National Library of Medicine, over 12 million children in the United States have tested positive. The pandemic will also have worsened the mental health of children, and will have exacerbated it with those with preconditions. The effects will probably be long-lasting.

The pandemic has destroyed normalcy and has had tragic consequences for all of us, especially children. Anxiety and depression were caused by the disruption of daily routines, social distancing and isolation, which can have implications, if not now, then later on in life. Children were forced into remote schooling from home; there was no interaction with their peers or teachers, and a sense of community was lost. Many spent their time playing games on their home computers or watching television. It has also been determined that the closure of Houses of Worship added to the mental and emotional strain placed on the young.

At the outset of the pandemic, the Children's Hospital Association (CHA) was in a state of uncertainty. Heather Huszti is the chief psychologist at CHA and explained that at meetings of the leadership of the hospital, they were asking “What’s going on here?” She explains that she went through the literature because many people were asking, “What’s the effect going to be on kids, because there was no literature on something like this.” Huszti added that “Researchers who followed kids for many years after a disaster or traumatic event found increased depression and anxiety that continued for three to five years,” although those weren’t pandemics, but we’re seeing it play out like the literature suggests.”  

Will there be any measure of normalcy restored post-pandemic to the mental and physical state of children? Dr. Jami Young, Associate Chair of Research at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, responded to this, “Despite the return to in-person schooling, which many felt would boost kids’ mental health, we’re not seeing declines in depression or suicide and eating disorders.”

In the December 30, 2022, New York Post, the headline read “Killing Our Future.” The report represents the number of children under 18 years old who have been shot in New York City in 2022, 16 of them fatally; this is an increase of 3% over 2021. Like the Post’s report, some experts on child behavior have voiced the opinion that we may have lost a generation of children to the pandemic, and I will add to this that the adults they relied on failed to protect them.

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