Corona pandemic: do politicians care enough about children?


From: 29/07/2022 16:53

Children and young people from uncertain backgrounds are particularly hard hit by the corona crisis. The pandemic means constant stress for this group. Is politics indifferent enough?

By Corinna Emundts,

The results of the survey on the consequences of the pandemic for children and young people are now overwhelming. Physical and psychological consequences are recognized – especially for the younger group, who are nevertheless disadvantaged. Be it through an uncertain family situation where children are already suffering due to poverty, illness or violence. Be it because of a migration background that parents cannot support children with in language acquisition.

The politicians know that. The Corona expert council appointed by the traffic light coalition dedicated a separate paper to this age group in February – with the call to “prioritize the well-being of the child”, again in its latest recommendation for autumn 2022. But experts are worried that the pandemic is once again at the expense of the youngest . And above all, it continues to harm those who are already struggling. “It is not enough to say that schools remain open – accompanying concepts are needed,” says Julian Schmitz, professor of clinical child and adolescent psychotherapy at the University of Leipzig.

“High high extra performance for young people”

The chairman of the German Association of Psychotherapists, Gebhard Hentschel, confirms this:

The influences of the described groups are very high and require a great deal of extra effort from the developing children and young people. The higher the burdens independent of the pandemic, the stronger the effects of additional pandemic burdens may be – and the fewer opportunities for protection and compensation there may be.

The pandemic is in its third year: This also means that politicians must learn from their previous measures. This becomes particularly evident when it comes to school closures – they should no longer exist. However, the original situation has changed in the third year of the pandemic. Children from the age of five and young people can now be vaccinated, many have already been through the disease – or even have both. Therefore, many non-risk families, where no member has previously had diseases, now deal with the virus in a relaxed way. They expect the old normal in schools and daycare centers.

The infection protection policy must be as suitable for them as it is for more concerned parents, teachers and educators who want more general protection requirements. And even more so for so-called shadow families, who isolate themselves strongly because a family member is previously ill and an infection can be life-threatening. One thing is clear: Politics cannot please everyone here.

But the political dilemma has changed in the third year of the pandemic: in the first year and a half of the pandemic without the possibility of vaccination, one had to balance the right to education on site – not only in home education – and, on the other hand, the health integrity of school children whose parents and teachers . The dilemma is now different: On the one hand, the group of children and young people who are particularly hard hit do not want to be isolated again in order to further impair their development – that is, to keep day care centers and schools open. On the other hand, the infection process must be kept under control if it is a more sickly and deadly virus variant.

Corona policy: one of the coalition’s points of contention

It is no secret that the Greens and SPD Minister Karl Lauterbach still disagree with the FDP to this day – that became clear during the coalition negotiations. In addition to fiscal policy, the corona policy is one of the coalition’s most important points of contention. But the federal states’ interests must also be taken into account in the Infection Protection Act (IfSG). With a view to the start of the new school year, the health ministers of the federal states had asked the federal government for clarity on the legal framework before the parliamentary summer vacation. Without success.

It is about wearing masks indoors, which the federal states cannot order for schools according to the current version of the Infection Protection Act – without the Bundestag solving an epidemic situation of national scope or correcting the IfSG, whose current version is valid until April 23. September applies. The CDU education minister in North Rhine-Westphalia could only “recommend” it in his current action plan this week. Your federal state will resume school operations on August 10.

But it is not enough politically to look at the Infection Protection Act. A vaccination strategy and test regulation are needed, emphasizes Health Minister Lauterbach. “If there is a testing strategy, you also need an isolation strategy,” says expert Schmitz. For example, outreach social work that does not leave the stressed families alone. There was “nothing in sight”.

But it is also important to quickly implement the political goals in the coalition agreement, which are now important for children and young people. Sufficient therapy places, e.g. “Especially in regions with fewer registered therapists, this can result in long waiting times,” says the psychotherapist association. It is therefore important that psychotherapeutic treatment places are expanded, especially in structurally weak regions. And funding programs for healthy eating and exercise. Both parts: Obesity and lack of exercise have increased among children and young people as a result of the pandemic.

Therapy places, digital and sports offers

A lot still needs to be done when it comes to the coalition’s goal of digitization: Schools need more support and resources to equip themselves and train teachers in such a way that lessons can be followed well by students in quarantine. After all, children from families with several children can have longer quarantine periods at home even without school closures, for example if siblings become infected one after the other.

Lots to do for the federal and state governments. All this actually speaks for an early children and youth summit to deal with the pandemic – in the chancellery.

Leave a Comment