Hundreds of school counselors talk about the horrible uptick in anxiety among children.
A local city school board candidate showed up at my house a few weeks ago. I had seen posters for this candidate and had gleaned a sense of where she stood politically. She politely knocked on my door. I noticed her T-shirt was in rainbow colors for “Pride Month.” Not a promising start. We talked about why she was running and about the practice of knocking on doors to talk to constituents. (She was surprised I was willing to talk to her). She then asked if I had any specific questions for her. I explained that I was a former teacher and mother who was deeply concerned about the academic and developmental setbacks our children endured as a result of the pandemic response. How would she as a school board member help teachers bridge the gap? (More on her response later…)
This is a question posed by many parents across the country. Two years out from the initial lockdowns, it has become more and more evident just how crushing to children were both the intense fear surrounding the pandemic and the loss of community. The ramifications go so much deeper than academics. The emotional wreckage of living through that time of intense uncertainty has set children back on a social and emotional level.
In The New York Times, Claire Cain Miller and Bianca Pallaro report, “In a survey of 362 school counselors nationwide by The New York Times in April, the counselors — licensed educators who teach these skills — described many students as frozen, socially and emotionally, at the age they were when the pandemic started.” This is typically a sign of trauma. Not only have these counselors documented this stagnated social and emotional growth, but they were also seeing heightened anxiety and depression, students having trouble regulating their emotions, and a lack of skills for conflict resolution with peers. As Power Line’s John Hinderaker aptly notes, “You know it’s bad when the New York Times notices.”
When both left-wing and right-wing media are acknowledging that our kids are in desperate need of our help as a result of the devastating setbacks they are facing, it prompts the next phase of the issue: How can we go about repairing the damage that was done?
These kids have been taught to fear everyone around them, and that message has been reinforced by how the culture wars are playing out in the national conversation. The pandemic taught kids to dehumanize their friends and neighbors because of the threat of spreading sickness.
Even though the threat of COVID has largely dissipated, the effects of this dehumanization are still at play. Women are no longer women but “bleeders,” “breeders,” “chest feeders,” “womxn,” or “womb carriers.” If you are white and straight, you are the problem with society. Unborn babies are a parasitic “clump of cells.” Are you a teenager feeling awkward in your changing body? You must be the wrong gender. If you dissent from the woke Left, its activists will attack, dox, rage at, dehumanize, and viciously bully you.
Kids of all ages see this discourse being fought in their local stores, on their TVs, through social media forums, and at school.
Civil discourse — arguing without losing your cool — has been largely thrown out the window. Consequently, our kids are anxious, depressed, unable to regulate their emotions, and horribly lost.
The pandemic was merely an accelerant for these underlying simmering issues.
Getting back to my introductory story, the woman running for the city school board was unable to give me a satisfactory answer. She explained that the state Department of Education is really where those sorts of issues are decided. This is not entirely true. School boards are the voices of their communities. They have some local oversight when it comes to fostering a better learning environment. Needless to say, academic and developmental setbacks should be more of a concern for a person looking to be elected as a school board member, particularly when the issue is acknowledged by both sides of the political aisle.
Written by Emmy Griffin for The Patriot Post ~ July 14, 2021