Our kids are becoming broken – when do we prioritize their well-being?

By Adam Sanderson, Contributor, the Toronto Star, Jan 27, 2021

I am a public educator who has served as both a teacher and administrator. I am also the father of two young children. At the moment, I am extremely concerned.

My concern is in regards to the harmful and lasting effects the current pandemic will have on the mental health and well-being of the children of our society. More specifically, I am worried that at some point the harm and damage the lockdown restrictions are doing to our children may actually exceed the dangers of COVID-19 itself.

Early on in this pandemic I dismissed as cruel and callous the notion that consideration for things such as economics or social activities should be weighed against safety measures. I believed that nothing but the most significant restrictions would get us through this safely. However, as time marches on my beliefs have changed. Because things have changed for the kids. They are becoming broken.

Our children are being damaged, right in front of our eyes. But we have the power to help them. Part of the issue, however, is that not enough people are having this conversation. Why? Because the kids are not the ones dying in hospitals record numbers. Yet the reality is that does not make their situation any less grave.

Simply because the kids are not on ventilators or in the ICU in large numbers does not mean they are not being scarred by this virus. It would seem to me that kids have done nothing but sacrifice.

They have given up everything they know and everything they love for the greater good; their friends, their extended family, education, socialization, athletics, even their innocence. There is no doubt that the mental health of our kids is suffering greatly. So I ask; at what point do we prioritize their well-being?

I fully understand that in this pandemic there are no easy answers or solutions, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for our front-line workers and health care staff. However, at this point I think we must reflect in light of what we are learning from the past year of living with COVID-19, and what we are learning is that kids cannot live like this.

It is not healthy or sustainable for them to do so. What is more, by continuing to do so we undoubtedly put the mental health, well-being and future prospects of happiness for our youth at risk. That is not hyperbole, it is the truth.