When you are poor, even when times are bad, you are really in trouble. That was the case during the pandemic, and it will continue to do so with inflation and rising energy costs. Because you have no money, you feel with full force when things get more expensive. And especially children notice in emergencies how the problems in their environment become more and more concentrated. This is also confirmed by a new CAD survey.
Socially disadvantaged students suffer especially during the Corona period. The affected girls and boys experience far more than all comparison groups the negative changes in their quality of life caused by the pandemic.
DAK states that it applies to life satisfaction, health and mental well-being. In particular, more and more children and young people are complaining of frequent headaches, abdominal or back pain – especially in families with low social status. This is shown by the current prevention radar from DAK-Gesundheit for the school year 2021/2022.
For the school survey, which is unique in Germany, IFT-Nord in Kiel has surveyed about 18,000 boys and girls in grades 5 to 10 in a total of 13 federal states on behalf of the health insurance company and compared the results with previous years.
As a consequence, DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm calls for a joint effort from health and family policy to strengthen the health of children and young people in Germany. For the professional association of paediatricians, social inequality is increasing.
When relief packages do not help the poor
And it also confirms what the Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband found in its poverty report published on Tuesday, June 28th. “The pandemic and inflation do not affect everyone equally. We have absolutely no sympathy for the federal government moving across the country as with a watering can, providing support where it is not needed at all and only providing completely inadequate help where there is an urgent need for it, “says Schneider.
The association criticizes the fact that only two billion euros of the total emergency aid package of 29 billion euros was given as targeted aid exclusively to low-income people. In addition, the one-time payments would be “eaten up” by inflation before they are even paid out.
“The current CAD prevention radar shows that the health and joy of life for many children and young people from socially disadvantaged families has become particularly bad during the pandemic,” says CAC CEO Andreas Storm.
“The results of several studies and surveys show a great deal of pressure to act. We must prevent the pandemic from creating a lost generation with health problems and mental illness. In the short term, I call for a concerted effort from the health and family policies of the federal and state governments to strengthen the health of children and young people. “
Since 2016, DAK-Gesundheit’s prevention radar has examined the physical and mental well-being and health behavior in grades 5 to 10. About 18,000 girls and boys from 1,100 classes in 13 federal states participated in the sixth wave of research by IFT-Nord in Kiel.
When children suffer the consequences of the pandemic
According to this, 29 percent of all school children report poorer health due to the pandemic. For socially disadvantaged children and young people, it is significantly more with 38 percent.
Compared to the pre-corona period, the proportion of all boys and girls who have headaches, abdominal or back pain at least once a week has increased by about a third.
In socially disadvantaged families, the increase is almost half. A total of 24 percent of all respondents currently suffer from pain on a regular basis. Among the vulnerable, it is 38 per cent. A comparable picture emerges in terms of exhaustion and fatigue: Among the socially disadvantaged children, 70 percent often feel tired and exhausted – a total of 57 percent.
Dr. Thomas Fischbach, President of the Professional Association of Pediatricians, confirms the survey results from DAK-Gesundheit. “We see in our practice that in addition to organ-related diseases such as obesity, there is also an increase in psychosomatic disorders such as frequent abdominal pain and headaches. And there are more general psychological problems like lack of motivation and exhaustion for depressive disorders. All in all, it is the socially disadvantaged children who give us the greatest concern. The pandemic acts as a further intensifier of social inequalities, and federal politicians have so far been passive. “
Loneliness and declining life satisfaction
According to DAK’s prevention radar, the pandemic had an impact on the joy of life for more than half of children and young people. Overall, the perceived satisfaction with life is “significantly worsened” for 7.7 percent of respondents.
There are comparable results for future prospects. In addition, every second school child in the school year 2021/2022 had reduced mental well-being. In the group of the socially disadvantaged, it was 67 percent; most affected here: the average 15-year-old girls in grades 5 to 10 with a share of 86 percent.
The statements of many girls and boys on the subject of loneliness are also striking: The vast majority of all respondents (about 84 percent) experienced loneliness during the Corona school years. Of these, about 39 percent state that they have felt lonely even more often because of the pandemic. Respondents with this condition are also more likely than other children to say that friendships have suffered as a result of the pandemic.
“The current CAD prevention radar makes it clear in various areas that the pandemic had very different effects and consequences depending on the social status of school children. Presumably, children and young people with a higher social status have more resources needed to oversee and classify the extraordinary situation and ultimately survive it well, ”explains Professor Reiner Hanewinkel, Head of Studies at IFT-Nord in Kiel.
The Department of Therapy and Health Research conducts annual surveys for the prevention radar and evaluates the results for DAK-Gesundheit. “During the pandemic, children and young people experience a significant degree of mental stress and loss of quality of life. Families with low social status have fewer coping resources and need support. ”