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Editorial: Stop ignoring lockdown effects on kids

Politicians and public health officials across the country say COVID-19 restrictions are for our own good, to limit the spread of COVID-19, protect the vulnerable and stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed.

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While we support those goals, we’re often left scratching our heads wondering if there isn’t a better way to do some of this. After all, restrictions and lockdowns come with their own societal and economic harms.

It’s disappointing to hear how few politicians acknowledge these harms whenever they announce new restrictions. With the exception of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, few mention the very real problems that are caused by lockdowns.

We’ve mentioned them here before — job losses, suicides, addiction and more. There’s one other that also needs our focus: the negative effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on children.

Back in October, we ran a guest column by four medical specialists with the headline: “As physicians, mothers and daughters, we have concerns with COVID-19 rules”. The authors discussed how children are not hard hit by the virus and not believed to be significant spreaders of it, but they have borne the brunt of many rules.

“While COVID-19 does not pose a significant health threat to children and youth, our response does. Suicides claim the lives of close to 4,000 young Canadians per year,” the column noted. “In June 2020, more young Canadians died in one month alone from opioid overdoses than in the entire province of B.C. from COVID-19.”

We need to strike a better balance. We need to let young people live their lives as normally as possible.

We also need to stop pushing the awful stigma about our young people that if they go out and about it will cause grandparents in old age homes to die. That connection is something that has just not been established as fact.

When this first began, there was so little we knew about the virus. That’s why schools were closed and why even playgrounds were roped off with caution tape.

Developments have taught us that these restrictions are not necessary and that, with protocols in place, children should be able to resume many of their regular activities.

This all needs to be kept in mind as some people call for more restrictions amidst the second wave. Leave the kids out of it.

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