New York Times reporting has finally joined reality and acknowledged a simple fact: Locking down children and forcing them into insane COVID protocols is “no way to grow up.”
In a Tuesday Times newsletter, the outlet’s David Leonhardt wrote that “American children are starting 2022 in crisis” — and that crisis is caused by the measures meant to protect them from getting the coronavirus.
(We’ve been saying this since the beginning of the pandemic here at The Western Journal — and we’re going to continue saying it no matter how much panic the latest variant produces. You can help us in our battle to bring America the truth by subscribing.)
In the piece, Leonhardt said he had “long been aware that the pandemic was upending children’s lives. But until I spent time pulling together data and reading reports, I did not understand just how alarming the situation had become.”
The reasons? Children who fell behind during the first year of virtual learning and haven’t been catching up, Leonhardt wrote — especially minority students. Mental health issues had also increased to the point the American Academy of Pediatrics, in declaring a national state of emergency regarding children’s mental health, noted there had been “dramatic increases in emergency department visits for all mental health emergencies.”
Beyond that, suicide attempts were up, especially among adolescent girls — with emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts for 12- to 17-year-old girls up by a startling 51 percent between early 2019 and early 2021, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.
Behavioral problems are also up: “There is a lot of swearing, vandalism and some fights,” Madison, Wisconsin teacher Kelli Tuttle told the Times, Leonhardt wrote. An unnamed teacher in Northern California, having taught for 15 years, said she’d heard the “meanest, most inappropriate comments to teachers” ever.
And, as Leonhardt pointed out, the recent surge of the omicron variant meant this wasn’t over — not by a long shot.
“Most schools have stayed open this week, but many have canceled sports, plays and other activities. Some districts have closed schools, for a day or more, despite evidence that most children struggle to learn remotely, as my colleague Dana Goldstein reports,” he wrote. “Closings are taking place in Atlanta, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Newark and several New York City suburbs, among other places.”
“It’s chaos,” Keri Rodrigues, president of the National Parents Union, told Goldstein. “The No. 1 thing that parents and families are crying out for is stability.”
Goldstein’s article, from Monday, described a similar situation to earlier lockdowns: “Some families were given just a few days or even hours of notice about school closures, leading to the all-too-familiar pandemic scramble to adjust child-care arrangements and work schedules,” she wrote.
“Atlanta Public Schools, for instance, announced on Saturday that classes would be online for the first week of January, just days after saying that classes would be held in person.”
And, as Goldstein noted, many of the districts that shut down “serve predominantly Black, Hispanic and low-income students, raising concerns about the educational gaps that widened during previous phases of the pandemic.”
Leonhardt concluded what many others had as early as last year:
“Data now suggest that many changes to school routines are of questionable value in controlling the virus’s spread,” he wrote. “Some researchers are skeptical that school closures reduce Covid cases in most instances. Other interventions, like forcing students to sit apart from their friends at lunch, may also have little benefit.”
That’s because children aren’t at risk for severe or long COVID.
“To be clear, there are some hard decisions and unavoidable trade-offs. Covid can lead to hospitalization or worse for a small percentage of vaccinated adults, especially those who are older or immunocompromised, and allowing children to resume normal life could create additional risk. The Omicron surge may well heighten that risk, leaving schools with no attractive options,” he wrote.
“For the past two years, however, many communities in the U.S. have not really grappled 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 to children in exchange for less harm to adults, often without acknowledging the dilemma or assessing which decisions lead to less overall harm.
“Given the choices that the country has made, it should not be surprising that children are suffering so much.”
And yet, most of the liberal establishment media has been allergic to the idea that school reopening is a good idea. Why? In November of 2020, Times opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof, arguing school closures had negatively affected students, got to the heart of the matter: “Some things are true even though President Trump says them.”
“I’ve been writing since May about the importance of keeping schools open, and initially the debate wasn’t so politicized,” Kristof wrote then. “But after Trump, trying to project normalcy, blustered in July about schools needing to open, Republicans backed him and too many Democrats instinctively lined up on the other side. Joe Biden echoed their extreme caution, as did many Democratic mayors and governors.
“So Democrats helped preside over school closures that have devastated millions of families and damaged children’s futures. Cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have closed schools while allowing restaurants to operate.”
That, of course, was just the Times’ opinion page — nothing that would ever appear in the Gray Lady’s straight-up reporting. In 2022, that’s changed; even the harder news side of the Times’ coverage is beginning to acknowledge that conservatives (yes, even the Orange One) were right on this.
But instead, what we’ve done is inflicted two years’ worth of harm on millions of children because we listened to reflexive Democratic ideology (with no small amount of help from teachers unions, which also wanted kids either out of classrooms or masked).
We’ve already reaped some of what we’ve sowed in behavioral problems and educational deficits — and that’s just over the short term. The longer-term ramifications will likely be even worse.
If only the left had acknowledged reality sooner, perhaps we wouldn’t be in this mess.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.