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Horowitz: A lost generation of children — thanks to adults acting like children

My kids are absolutely convinced that there are monsters in our basement and will never go into it alone. Irrational fear is a very normal feeling for young kids, but it’s part of the growing process. They grow out of it because rational adults guide them through those fears. But what happens when adults impose upon kids their own irrational fears, to the point where they demonstrate to them that breathing without a mask and being around people are categorical threats to their lives? We are only beginning to recognize this generational and civilizational killer.

Michael Myronuk Jr. was a 14-year-old freshman at Dulaney High School, just a few miles from where I live in Baltimore County. At a time when so many parents struggle with mental and emotional health concerns among their adolescent kids, Michael was a gifted and talented student who appeared to have a bright future ahead of him. Until the March shutdown of schools under the false notion that this virus poses a meaningful risk to children.

On Oct. 20, Michael took his own life, and as WBFF reports, his parents believe it was from the social isolation and closure of in-person schooling. Heathyr Sidle, the boy’s mother, told WBFF that Michael had spiraled into depression in the ensuing months after the lockdown. “He didn’t have any hope. He just gave up.”

This is not a unique story. According to a CDC survey in late June, symptoms of anxiety and depression had already tripled since March and an unfathomable 26% of people 18 to 24 had considered suicide in the past month prior to the survey.

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In November, the CDC released an analysis showing a 31% increase in mental health-related ER visits among children ages 12-17 since the lockdowns in March and even a 24% increase in ER visits for children as young as 5-11. They cited “abrupt disruptions to daily life associated with mitigation efforts, including anxiety about illness, social isolation, and interrupted connectedness to school” as a likely cause.

Why is there no dashboard counting the suicides, overdose deaths, and increase in diagnosis of mental health problems? And unlike with the virus deaths, where there is no proven policy to prevent those fatalities, every one of these deaths is absolutely preventable because they are unnatural and man-made.

The liberal Republican governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, recently repeated the mantra of “if it only helps one person,” these attempted mitigation efforts are worthwhile. But at what cost and with what evidence of efficacy after eight months of implied self-acknowledged failure of these policies? He questioned the harm of wearing masks. Well, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that masks are the most dramatic and ubiquitous reminder of living in fear and anxiety. When you make children run around wearing them on the playground and in school for up to seven hours, that definitely takes a mental health toll, even while we are still discovering the potential long-term physical health concerns of covering one’s breathing with contaminated, shedding cloths indefinitely.

The question none of these people will answer, though, is why we should upend the lives of children for a virus that does not pose a greater risk to them than the flu, especially after all these draconian measures have failed to stop the autumn surge, which has been the largest, most widespread transmission of cases throughout the country?

The propagation of irrational fear, universal masking, and social isolation is particularly harmful for younger children who haven’t lived long under “the old normal” to experience life properly. Suicides are up 30% among the youth in the Seattle area over last year, but a large increase comes from younger adolescents. According to public disclosure data obtained by the Post Millennial, “The age groups of 11, 14 and 15 did not have any recorded suicides in the county in 2019, but in 2020 accounted for 7.69 percent, 38.46 percent and 15.38 percent respectively.”

What will happen to the new generation of infants and toddlers who have never experienced normal human interaction? While I worry a lot about my three older boys, I’m particularly worried about my 7-month-old daughter, who rarely sees people, and the few people she does see look like mummies.

Even putting aside the obvious loss of life from depression, suicide, and drugs, recent research projects a loss of 5.53 million life years just from children missing out on educational attainment. Last month, researchers at University of Washington and University of California published a study at JAMA Network showing a total of 24.2 million children aged 5 to 11 years lost a median of 58 days of instruction in the spring. Based on the educational attainment lost, and its chain reaction of better health, wealth, and upward mobility that come along with a better education, they estimate a cumulative loss of 5.53 million life years from this generation of children. And those numbers increase every day schools continue to remain closed.

Also, they only studied children in primary school, not those in high school. “Nevertheless, we believe it highly probable that school closures in early 2020 will also ultimately depress high school graduation rates (and therefore may influence lifespan) for older children as well,” concluded the authors.

What is so tragic is that by the time this damage is evident, these politicians and media purveyors of panic will be long gone.

“These potential associations of school closure with child health remain hidden at present, as the shortening of lifespans that today’s primary school children could experience would not manifest until long after the pandemic is over,” observed the authors. “The public discourse on reopening has focused on lives saved in the present and largely neglected the years of life that may be lost in the future because of decisions made today.”

The 5.53 million life years lost from today’s children just from the education gap alone dwarf the years of life lost to the virus itself, a tragic loss among those in their final months or years for which, absent a vaccine, there have been no proven ways to avoid.

Then there are the ancillary harms the panic policies impose upon the kids that range from increased poverty, skyrocketing divorce rates, and the weakening of the very immune system God gave them that has made them so resilient to this virus.

Do we even have as much mercy on our children as we would on rats?

Why do I bring up rats? In 2019, researchers published a fascinating study in “Nature Neuroscience” showing that when rats already hooked on methamphetamine in a lab setting were given a choice between more interaction with other rats or refills of drugs, they chose social interaction. Rats are evidently very sociable creatures.

Do you know who else craves social interaction? Our children. And do you know who else resorts to drugs when despair and depression set in from social isolation? Our youth.

The twisted irony is that all these policies have caused our government to go trillions into debt in order to fund the fallout from the lockdown and business closures and shield the governors from making more balanced and rational choices without the federal printing presses bailing them out. Who will bear the entire burden of that debt? You guessed it: the same generation that is bearing the burden of those very lockdown policies.

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