American children are facing crisis in 2022.
I have long been aware that the pandemic was upending children’s lives. But until I spent time gathering data and reading reports, I didn’t understand how alarming the situation had become.
Today’s newsletter offers an overview of that crisis.
Children fell behind in school during the first year after the pandemic. They have not caught up. According to NWEA, a research organization, math and reading levels among third through eighth graders were all lower than usual this fall. The largest shortfalls were among Black and Hispanic student, as well students in schools with high poverty rates.
“We haven’t seen this kind of academic achievement crisis in living memory,” Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute told Politico.
Many teens and children are experiencing mental health problems.exacerbated by the disruption and isolation of the pandemic. Three medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently declared a national state of emergency in children’s mental health. They cited “dramatic increases in emergency department visits for all mental health emergencies.”
Suicide attempts have risen, slightly among adolescent guys and sharply among teenager girls. The number of E.R. According to the C.D.C.
Gun violence against children is on the riseThis is part of a wider nationwide rise in crime. Chicago saw 101 murders of children under 20 years old last year. This is an increase from 76 deaths in 2019. School shootings have also increased: The Washington Post reported that 42 school shootings took place in the U.S. last year, an increase of 27 from 2019.
Many schools are still not back to normal, leading to social isolation and learning loss. Once-normal aspects of school life — lunchtime, extracurricular activities, assemblies, school trips, parent-teacher conferences, reliable bus schedules — have been transformed if not eliminated.
The Morning asked teachers and parents about the situation at their local schools. We heard a lot of anguish.
“This is no way for children to grow up,” Jackie Irwin, a reader in Oklahoma, told us. “It is maddening.”
“For so many kids, school represents a safe, comfortable, reliable place, but not for nearly two years now,” Lisa Durstin of Strafford, Vt., said.
“A lot of the joy and camaraderie that signifies a happy, productive school culture has disappeared,” said Maria Menconi, a schools consultant and former superintendent based in Arizona.
Behavior problems have increased. “Schools across the country say they’re seeing an uptick in disruptive behaviors,” Kalyn Belsha of Chalkbeat reported. “Some are obvious and visible, like students trashing bathrooms, fighting over social media posts or running out of classrooms. Others are quieter calls for help, like students putting their head down and refusing to talk.”
Kelli Tuttle, a teacher in Madison, Wis., told us, “There is a lot of swearing, vandalism and some fights.” A teacher in Northern California said she had witnessed the “meanest, most inappropriate comments to teachers” in her 15 years of working in schools.
The Omicron variant is now scrambling children’s lives again. Although most schools remained open for the week, many cancelled plays, sports, and other activities. Some districts have closed schools for up to a day, despite evidence that most children learn best from home, as Dana Goldstein, my colleague reports. Closings are being carried out in Atlanta, Cleveland and Milwaukee, Newark, and several New York City suburbs.
“It’s chaos,” Keri Rodrigues, president of the National Parents Union, told Dana. “The No. 1 thing that parents and families are crying out for is stability.”
It is not easy to make tough decisions
Covid-19 has been causing harm to children in America for the past two years. That was most likely true in 2020 when almost all of society stopped functioning to slow down the spread of a mysterious and deadly virus.
But the approach has been less defensible for the past year and a half, as we have learned more about both Covid and the extent of children’s suffering from pandemic restrictions.
Data now suggest that many changes to school routines are of questionable value in controlling the virus’s spread. Some researchers doubt that school closures can reduce Covid cases in all cases. Other interventions, such forcing students to eat with their friends at lunch, could also prove ineffective.
One reason: Children are extremely unlikely to get severe Covid, even long Covid. The virus is similar to a common flu for them. Children are more at risk from car rides that Covid.
The widespread availability of vaccines since last spring also raises an ethical question: Should children suffer to protect unvaccinated adults — who are voluntarily accepting Covid risk for themselves and increasing everybody else’s risk, too? The U.S. is saying, in effect, yes right now.
It is important to be clear that there are hard decisions and unavoidable tradeoffs. A small number of vaccinated adults can be hospitalized or worsened by covid. This is especially true for older people or those with compromised immune systems. Children who allow their lives to continue as normal could also be at risk. Schools may be left with few options due to the Omicron surge, which could increase this risk.
However, for the past two years many communities in the U.S. has not really dealt with the trade-off. They have tried to minimize the spread of Covid — a worthy goal absent other factors — rather than minimizing the damage that Covid does to society. They have accepted more harm for children in exchange of less harm for adults, sometimes without acknowledging the dilemma and assessing which decisions will cause the greatest harm.
It shouldn’t surprise that children are suffering so much from the consequences of the choices made by the country.
Related: According to polls, Americans are frustrated and worn out by the pandemic. Blake Hounshell explains this in the first issue of the On Politics newsletter.
THE LATEST NEWS
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The Capitol riot is due to the U.S. electoral system, which gives conservatives an advantage structurally. Osita Nwanevu writes.
Democrats are focusing on voting rights. They’re missing the bigger problem, Yuval Levin argues.
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Wordle:His partner loved word-games, so he made one for her. It’s a hit.
Ready, set, go: The hot trend in running is streaking — no, not like that.
Virtual travelThe Great Night of Shiva celebrations in Nepal are unforgettable
The Coronavirus Pandemic: Key Information
The global surge. The coronavirus is spreading faster than ever at the start of 2022, but the last days of 2021 brought the encouraging news that the Omicron variant produces less severe illness than earlier waves. Therefore, governments are now focusing on expanding vaccination rather than limiting spread.
Never too late:They tried something new. Now they’re encouraging you to try, too.
The classic A Times: Step inside a Hokusai photo that captures a moment on the south coast Honshu and smell the salt in the air.
Lives Well April Ashley rose from poverty to the heights of London society, rubbing shoulders with John Lennon and Mick Jagger — and all while fighting for legal recognition of her gender. Ashley was one of the first Brits to have gender confirmation surgery. She died at the age of 86.
What we’ll eat
New year, new you, new … food trends?
The Times’s Kim Severson rounded up what forecasters are predicting we will eat and drink in 2022. There will be a renewed interest in mushrooms, a rethinking chicken and coffee, and a revival of 1980s cocktails.
As far as the flavor of the year goes, look out for hibiscus, “which is adding its crimson hue and tart, earthy flavor to everything from cocktails and sodas to crudos and yogurt,” Kim writes.
You may even start hearing entirely new words to describe tastes, like “swicy” and “swalty.” Check it all out here.
PLAY, WATCH and EAT
What to Cook
Source: NY Times