Since I’m a homeschooling parent, many people have helpfully “checked in” over the years with advice: I must not to be overprotective, and should ensure that my children have many experiences out in the world! It’s a terrible idea to plug my kids into video games or devices in an effort to keep them indoors and “safe” - kids must interact with others, especially peers! They need physical activity! They must learn to take risks in order to fly! They need to learn from many teachers! Hovering over my children, I have been told, can lead to psychological harm and all sorts of other maladies.
I happen to agree with all of this, though not with the idea that it’s anybody’s business to legislate my parenting choices. Usually I don’t share my opinions with others unless they ask, or that person has overstepped my own Healthy Boundaries (another way I’m supposed to set an example for my kids).
The CDC has overstepped these boundaries with their 2021 “Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps.” Since they began, lockdowns essentially encouraged the opposite of all common-sense parenting behaviors; these new CDC directives further mandate even more draconian rules using an extremely questionable risk-benefit analysis.
One could be forgiven for thinking, if one has recently glanced at media headlines, that literally nothing much matters anymore if it doesn’t relate to Covid risk prevention. In service to this singular cause, if my child goes to camp this summer she will have to wear a double mask at all times, even with her camp cohort, even when outdoors and exercising and even though little evidence exists that the benefits outweigh the risks of doing so. She will have to stay between three and six feet away from all other people at all times, even when masks prevent her from reading social cues or hearing what others are saying. She will not be able to hug any of her new friends. She will be expected to create her experience within a 6- to 12-foot circle, and neither she nor any of the adults around her will be allowed to prioritize the risks of and challenges inherent in social distancing, mask wearing (especially outdoors, in the heat, and during physical activity), and enforced obsession with germs.
A few short months ago, we parents would have been encouraged to seek diagnosis for such behavior as a disorder; now we are supposed to encourage it, both in ourselves and our youngest children. (These camp guidelines even contradict the CDC’s own - still questionable but at least slightly less-draconian - general guidelines, which include permission to forgo masks in outdoor settings.)
The CDC and others have neglected children’s health during this Covid response in ways that I consider unconscionable. It is notable that under 300 children TOTAL have died from Covid since it’s discovery over a year ago - less than half the number of kids who generally die from the flu or from drowning in any given year.
But, we are told: Covid is different! We should focus on eliminating THIS risk above all others. And yes, many people have died from Covid: over 500,000 in the USA, give or take.
And yet how long do we want to continue lockdown-type protocols in the context of all the other risks we face as a society and on this earth? Also in the US: cancer is on the rise, last year estimated to have killed 606,520 Americans. Heart Disease is increasing, with 655,000 Americans dying from it per year. Kidney failure affects almost 750,000 people per year in the United States, disproportionately minority and low-income patients. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2017 based on the 83,564 death certificates in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause. (In 2017, diabetes was mentioned as a cause of death in a total of 270,702 certificates.)
It turns out that people are much more likely to die from Covid if they suffer from chronic disease. Being elderly is a risk factor for increased mortality, but it is not an automatic death sentence. And unlike aging, our overall health is something over which we have some control. Lockdown behaviors have reduced quality of life and health for untold millions of people and especially children, who are increasingly likely to suffer from chronic diseases at ever earlier ages. All of this was happening before Covid, and it’s worse now.
Some of the other-than-Covid epidemics facing our children today: autism/ADHD, depression, behavioral disorders, mental health problems, addiction, diabetes, hypoglycemia heart disease, cancer, arthritis, skin problems, digestive issues, thyroid problems, overweight and obesity, hormonal imbalances, kidney problems, hypertension, inflammation, not to mention dozens of strange disorders involving the immune system that are literally just being described in the medical literature as more and more people got diagnosed with so far “incurable” maladies. It is time to reorder our priorities.
All these modern diseases add up to an incredible number of early deaths and reduced quality of life, yet we are not mounting campaigns to force people to eat better food and use fewer toxic products and meditate more, despite all the evidence that these things would drastically improve health outcomes.
It is unfair to lock down societies, cause a huge amount of suffering and death, drive an already-broken economic system toward an even more dangerously-steep divide between rich and poor…in order to possibly save some lives that might be lost due to Covid. It is especially unfair to put the burden of this impossible task on our children.
One thing that we keep forgetting amidst the insane media hype is that Most People Who Get Covid Will Get Better. Even most elderly people. Even most people with comorbidities.
Let’s put our heads together and work toward increasing the health and resilience of ourselves and our communities, so that we can better face Covid AND the other epidemics of our time. Let’s allow our kids to attend camp without encouraging a generation of traumatized, anti-social young people. It’s the responsible thing to do.