The human rights implications of long lockdown and the damaging impact on young people

Ellen Townsend:

The rights and needs of young people have been ignored in this crisis and this is a national and global disaster in the making. The future of our youngsters has been sacrificed in order to protect adults which goes against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 3) states: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”. The lockdown measures taken are not proportionate to the risks posed by the virus to young people and below I outline some of the evidence demonstrating the disproportionate impact of lockdowns on young people.Lockdowns deprive young people of the right to education, to normal psychological development, to good mental health and wellbeing.

Lockdowns and school closures disrupt our normal functioning and social interaction – we are fundamentally social beings. For young children, face-to-face play is essential to wellbeing. For some children, playtime at school is the only time they are able to interact with other children.[1] Playing closely with peers protects against mental ill health and without this essential contact young people have felt very lonely[2] [3] and isolated in lockdown with deleterious and long-term impacts on mental health: the impact of loneliness on mental health can be seen up to nine years later.[4] The social and emotional benefits of playing together cannot be understated[5].

Preventing children and adolescents from socialising and attending school will disrupt vital developmental processes that impact on brain development and functioning, especially executive function which is vital for self-control and flexible thinking.[6] For many young children a significant proportion of their life has now been spent in some form of isolation or lockdown. For teenagers, the impact of lack of face-to-face social interaction is particularly worrying since this is a sensitive period of development when peer influence and peer acceptance are especially important.[7] Simply put, adolescence is a vital period in life when the brain undergoes structural and functional changes directly influenced by the social environment, which lockdowns have severely disrupted.[8] Many mental illnesses first appear in the teenage years[9] and lockdowns and school closures have removed many sources of support available to those struggling. Indeed, high quality prospective data indicates that lockdown in March increased the number of young people with diagnosable mental health problems – 1 in 6 in 2020 as compared to 1 in 9 in 2017.[10] This means there is an expanding group of vulnerable young people who will require support.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

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