The Mental Health Affects of Lockdowns on Children.
This is an Ongoing series on Covid Policy By Hina Khattak.
Beginning with the impact of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the environmental settings, public health, and modes of living due to lockdown, policies. How children in the U. S are growing up, and how these health, social, economic, educational crises are magnifying and exacerbating the preexisting environmental, health, social, and economic modalities. Special attention is upon childbirth registration, child health, safety, personality development, and learning loss. Bear with us, as I will be sharing my concerns related to the impacts of lockdown on the vulnerable, poor children and children with disabilities. Our objective is to highlight all the possible and minimum steps we could take to mitigate and respond in a better way to current and future policies related to pandemics, to help deal with the physical and mental health of children, adults, and on the whole of a community and nation.
CHILDBIRTH REGISTRATION DURING LOCKDOWN
Civil registration provides legal recognition for a continuous, universal recording of the statistics of vital events on the specific population. Despite its clear importance, around 29% of the world’s children younger than 5 years have not had their births registered due to lack of accessibility to the service due to lockdown
Each baby, born has the right to a first legal identity, to be called known as an official child of a country. Without a birth certificate, children are invisible to their governments meaning that they may miss essential rights and fundamental benefits set for their protection, health, care, education. The lockdown policies initiated y different countries for Covid-19 for the safety from the transmission of viruses become a hurdle in many aspects. In one way It acts as a barrier for parents to access their child’s birth registration. Civil registration systems were also affected In response to lockdown.
Except for three countries in Central and South America that were functioning normally to the civil registration as an essential service, these were Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico. Few were having in-person services, shift work services other were completed closed for birth registration due to stay-at-home orders and measures(Argentina, Mexico). In Brazil, access to in-person registration services was partially suspended, in Colombia, civil registration services remained available only in the notaries’ offices. Thus from one region to the next, each child is missed from the legal identity. The benefits of birth registration go far beyond the child, because as he is a part of a community. In addition, each citizen adds a role in the country’s betterment planning. Individual identity is necessary for good performance for the community.
CHILD HEALTH AND SAFETY
Although there is no direct impact of covid-19 on children to date, the lockdown does have manifested in minor (family) to major settings (other social areas). As evident from the hospitalization rates for the US, this showed symptomatic children 10 and 20 times lower than for the middle-aged, and 25 and 100 times lower than for the elderly. Home represents a source of security and safety for each being and for children. It is like a mother’s lap. However, the same home can be a space to suffocate those minority children who earn by many means themselves. How this home restriction is challenging for these minority children will be discussed in later articles.
On the whole, children are affected by multiple broader ways and may result in a lasting impact on their health and development. Confinement to indoor pollutants, immobility, major screen time, have adversely affected children so far during the lockdown in both physical and mental ways. Exposure to allergens and common indoor pollutants, dust, less ventilation secondhand smoke, nitrogen dioxide, and lead and can exacerbate asthma, organ dysfunction, acute respiratory infections. Besides this misuse of household products by children aged younger than 5 due to lack of supervision by caretakers is also reported by various regions in 2020 (Chang 2020). Till December 2020, almost 25,000 hand sanitiser exposure cases were reportedU.S. (American Association of Poison Control Centers 2021). Child death rate increase in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic is the additional report. And this increase in the global mortality rate is due to less access to essential maternal, newborn, and child health care, less immunization, less precautionary measures. besides health issues children are not getting change in environment to suppose going school, they meet teachers, fellows and that adds more to their life which is now restricted to screen. So what happens at home stays at home, they are not able to have concepts but just course completion. Also, it has limited their social circle and resulted in anxiety, irritability, aggression, tantrums, stubbornness. How this mental status plays role in adult life continue reading …
CHILD PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT
As the immune system of a child is challenged with daily life illnesses it slowed down growth and development in children as well. Delaying in development leads to learning, behaviour, hearing, and speech problems in children, which can persist, into adulthood. Children not receiving much care as they need can have personality issues later in life like negativism, stubbornness, antisocial behaviour, anxiety, persistent depression, trauma and other personality disorders. The same holds true for other impacts of longer exposure to toxic stress, during early childhood development, which is likely to develop lifelong challenges throughout development. One way or the other these long time confinements, curfews are affecting the well-being of a child. Depending on levels and kinds of support, care a child receives the continuous stress may either be tolerable or become toxic to children.
(Leadership Hausa – Leadership New Yadda A Ke Gina Dabi’a)
Schools, childcare, training institutions, curfew have changed the dynamics of children’s daily routines, way of living and thus affected the whole family. Each child and family is affected by the closure differently. A family with financial stability and resources is as affected as the one with fewer resources, but the effect is different. Working parents, facing increased responsibility of a child can either benefit him if parents are responsible, on the other hand, irresponsible parents could disturb a child. Superficially closing institutions have impaired learning but underneath it has shaken up the development of a child. Not all children enclosed at homes can access online learning, which is again a lengthy debate, though it has affected 6% of children ages 3 to 18 in the U.S. apart from learning lockdowns has induced passivity in children and reduced opportunities for them to play with their peers, engage in groups, to develop empathy, problem-solving abilities, and understand brotherhood. Although the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other organizations had many learning facilities for students during the pandemic but still special children requiring occupational therapy, speech therapy are only available at the institution. Even if these facilities are available some parents may not have the necessary skills for in-person support to their children. In the U.S., over 7 million children (14% of all public school students) receive special education services (IES-NCES 2020a). The COVID-19 pandemic has widened even the existing emotional and social inequalities. Moreover, it may not be feasible to adhere both to distancing guidelines and the criteria outlined by each student’s individualized education program (American Academy of Pediatrics 2020).
- Omaña Peñaloza R. Universal Civil Identity Program in the Americas. Latin America’s responses to COVID-19, Organization of American States. Presentation to: Webinar on Maintaining Civil Registration during COVID-19. March 31, 2020.
- Franca EB, Ishitani LH, Teixeira RA, et al. Deaths due to COVID-19 in Brazil: how many are there and which are being identified? Rev Bras Epidemiol. 2020;23:e200053.
- Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on children 15 APRIL 2020
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry (2020)
- American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health Children’s unique vulnerability to environmental hazards Pediatric Environmental Health (fourth ed.), American Academy of Pediatrics, Itasca, IL (2019), pp. 17-31
- American Lung Association. Children and air pollution. Available:/clean-air/outdoors/who-is-at-risk/children-and-air-pollution [accessed 8 August 2020].
- Helen Wylie, UNICEF New York, Children at increased risk of harm online during global COVID-19 pandemic – UNICEF (15 April 2020)