What are we doing to our children?
On Monday, August 23, the Plano ISD School Board held an emergency meeting to decide on mask mandates for Plano schools. In a scene that is being repeated all over the country, the arguments presented by the 90+ speakers were passionate to say the least. While the battles over mask mandates rage here in the US, not enough people have stopped to ask the question "What are we doing to our children?"
Around the world, policy after policy is being created to keep us safe. How many times have you heard "it's all worth it to save lives!"? Glenn Greenwald offers this bit of relfection and and ponders why no one uses these same agruments about speed limits or air travel in The Bizarre Refusal to Apply Cost-Benefit Analysis to COVID Debates.
While arguments are common about how this framework should be applied and which specific policies are ideal, the use of cost-benefit analysis as the primary formula we use is uncontroversial — at least it was until the COVID pandemic began. It is now extremely common in Western democracies for large factions of citizens to demand that any measures undertaken to prevent COVID deaths are vital, regardless of the costs imposed by those policies. Thus, this mentality insists, we must keep schools closed to avoid the contracting by children of COVID regardless of the horrific costs which eighteen months or two years of school closures impose on all children.
It is impossible to overstate the costs imposed on children of all ages from the sustained, enduring and severe disruptions to their lives justified in the name of COVID. Entire books could be written, and almost certainly will be, on the multiple levels of damage children are sustaining, some of which — particularly the longer-term ones — are unknowable (long-term harms from virtually every aspect of COVID policies — including COVID itself, the vaccines, and isolation measures, are, by definition, unknown). But what we know for certain is that the harms to children from anti-COVID measures are severe and multi-pronged. One of the best mainstream news accounts documenting those costs was a January, 2021 BBC article headlined “Covid: The devastating toll of the pandemic on children.”
Let me say it again, "What are we doing to our children?"