As a parent, I’ve had ENOUGH. I will not remain silent. 

It is my duty and obligation as a mother to advocate for ALL children and speak up. I will no longer stay silent on the sidelines when it comes to children and their mental, physical and educational needs. 

In March when quarantine began, school and activities for kids came to a screeching halt. We were told that we needed “two weeks” to “flatten the curve.” That was four long months ago. According to the graph below from the CDC, the curve has been flattened.

Everything about a normal childhood has been turned upside down and around by coronavirus, and in many cases, just straight-up “canceled.” I begrudgingly tolerated this for the last 4 months but no more. 

Sports Are “Essential” to Children

Last night we received notice that midget football for our son and others like him had been added to the “canceled” list. Previously, there’d been talk of our children being able to play sports during quarantine if they wore a mask under their football helmet, along with all the football gear. Parents were outraged about that though, and rightfully so. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that would be a recipe for disaster. Youth football kids train outside in the summer. It could be up to 100 degrees and you want to smother our children’s faces with masks? I’m sorry but that is the very definition of stupidity. So the league’s solution? Cancel youth football altogether.

If contact can’t take place (which I fundamentally disagree with) why can’t they play flag football? Two hand touch? Or at least have conditioning and practices with no contact? Canceling sports because of COVID-19 is not the answer.

My husband swears that football and his coach put him on the straight and narrow. The benefits of kids playing sports are abundant, for boys especially. Plus, having positive coaches in their lives can make all the difference for them as young men. The immediate consequences of no sports for kids might be minimal but they can have long term effects that we’re not considering.

Football Season 2019

Children Are Not a Walking Disease

Children in the United States and their needs during COVID-19 have been ignored, dismissed and discarded under the guise of “safety.” They’ve been labeled as diseased and a threat to all. Children and their parents have been told that they are silent, potential murderers of grandma, their friends, strangers, other family members and their teachers.

We need to start talking about the long-term effects that this is going to have on children in this country. I’ve read countless Facebook posts about children being anxious, depressed and lonely. This is not the kind of childhood I want for any child. Childhood doesn’t need to be sparkles and rainbows every day, but it also doesn’t need to be doom and impending death either.

ZERO young people in PA under the age of 24 have passed from COVID-19. I’ll say it again: zero. Tell me again why kids can’t come in contact with one another? My house has been completely open to any and all children during coronavirus (and their parents) since May. I’ve hosted birthday parties, had cookouts and swim parties during quarantine. I’ve had dozens of kids sleep over as well. Even sharing beds, drinks, bathrooms, and if I had to guess, probably a toothbrush. Want to know how many adults and children have gotten sick from coronavirus or shown coronavirus symptoms? None.

Kids being kids

Other Countries Are Doing It

Germany has had children back in school part-time with no surge and it may even have had a good effect on infection rates from Coronavirus:

“Children may even act as a brake on infection,” Berner told a news conference, saying infections in schools had not led to an outbreak, while the spread of the virus within households was also less dynamic than previously thought.

German Study Shows Low Coronavirus Infection Rate In Schools The New York Times, July 13th, 2020

I will not succumb to this relentless fear mongering, especially for children. My children and the children that are a part of our lives will not live in fear of a virus they have very little control over and doesn’t harm them. 

Elephant in the Room

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room that everyone is seemingly ignoring. If school doesn’t return in the fall, children will have been home for six months with no schooling and no outside protection from their home lives. Teachers and counselors are trained to notice signs of abuse in children.

We need to stop ignoring the fact that mental, emotional, sexual and physical abuse takes place in some children’s homes. School is the safeguard in place for these things to be noticed, reported and dealt with. Six months of coronavirus quarantine is already long enough for these children to endure. It is not ok to tear away the very infrastructure that was put in place to protect our most innocent and vulnerable.

The Infrastructure of School is Vital for the Safety of All Children

The infrastructure of school also keeps children safe from outside predators that rely on the internet to groom, manipulate and entice children.

On July 16, 2020, John Shehan, Vice President of the Center For Missing and Exploited Children, discussed how COVID-19 has affected child exploitation.

“COVID-19 has presented challenges and opportunities in the fight against child sexual exploitation. In the first quarter of 2020, NCMEC became aware of predators openly discussing the pandemic as an opportunity to entice unsupervised children into producing sexually explicit material.  At the same time, we experienced an explosion in reporting to our CyberTipline from both the public and electronic service providers, all while transitioning to a telework environment.”

Covid 19 and Missing & Exploited Children NCMEC Blog July 16th, 2020

What a perfect world for these evil, predatory people that have just been given even more room to exploit our kids. Children are home and in many cases left unsupervised with nothing more than an Ipad or phone. 

The chart below clearly illustrates the uptick in predators using the time children have been at home to their advantage:

Comparing NCMEC data in first two quarters of years 2019 and 2020 Online Enticement

All Children, Not Just Mine, Not Just Yours

This isn’t just about my kids. My children are fortunate enough that we have other options besides public schools. I am fortunate enough that I work from home. This is about all children. A proper education, safety from predators and extracurricular activities for children are not just for the financially well off. I believe it is every child’s right to benefit from these. Not just the ones that have the luxury of a stay-at-home parent or the financial means to get private tutoring, monitor their online activities and put together time for them to play with other children.

On July 15, 2020, the Wall Street Journal published  “Are They Setting My Children Up For Failure”. The lead sentences state, “Students in Mississippi’s Jackson Public Schools district, who are predominantly black and low income, already lagged their peers academically. Shutdowns set them back even more…” This illustrates the real need in some communities for in-school education to start back up in the fall. 

This is a real problem that needs to be addressed, the numbers are staggering and affect half of all students in the United States. “About 26 million public-school students, just over half in the U.S., are considered low-income” “Are They Setting My Children Up For Failure”

As Americans we really need to understand the impact this is going to have on the children in this country. The short term risks cannot outweigh the long term negative effects, as they described in the same above article:

“Missing those months will leave some children across the country, especially those already behind, struggling to catch up, educators said. ‘I think of it as an academic death spiral,’ said Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell. ‘I don’t know how you do algebra without pre-algebra.’”

The Priority

Children shouldn’t have every “safe space” taken away from them due to COVID-19. All children deserve an education that is effective and equal to their peers in more fortunate areas. This has always been an issue but has been amplified during these times.

School, sports and social interaction for children is vital. Teachers, coaches and their friend’s houses can act a refuge for many children across our country. These very things can give these children a fighting chance to escape their not-so-pleasant lives. 

I urge all of you to take a stand against what I see as an inappropriate and inequitable reaction to covid and children. Call your schools, write your administrators, speak out on your social media. The time to make our children, the most vulnerable and innocent in our society the priority. We have truly lost our way as a nation if we don’t.