How Has Lockdown Affected Children?
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
It can be universally agreed that this pandemic has proved a tough time for kids, what with the staying home, online classes/exams, and separation from friends. But these problems are minor compared to what some students face every summer, and indeed, what they are facing now. Apart from providing education, school is also the source of two meals a day for underprivileged children. Nearly 22 million low-income kids from communities across the country rely on the free and reduced-price meals they receive at school*. During the summer, these children experience a sort of “summer hunger phenomenon,” where they are unable to adequately feed themselves because of the limited availability of affordable food. The closing of schools has not only prolonged this period of hunger but made it worse as people hoard food and resources, further limiting access to affordable sustenance. The best thing we can do to help is to be conscious of hoarding and avoid it as much as possible. It is therefore imperative that Congress is able to maximize federal nutrition programs like SNAP for struggling families.
For children who are regularly subjected to domestic abuse, not being able to go out means that there is a lesser chance of someone reporting their abusers. According to the Washington Post**, “The American system of catching child abuse relies on kids venturing outside their homes. Year after year, most referrals to child protective services come from professionals — police officers, lawyers, doctors, anyone who comes into contact with a child as part of their job. But no group reports more than educators, who were responsible for 21 percent of the 4.3 million referrals made in 2018, according to federal data.” Increased stress in the household, coupled with the fact that children are forced to stay home, only increases the likelihood of abuse while decreasing the likelihood of that abuse being reported. The result? Fewer incidents reported and frighteningly more severe injuries.
School districts are taking steps to try and solve these problems. “In Danville Public Schools, educators are taking advantage of the few glimpses of children they still get. The school system is delivering meals by bus to its nearly 6,000 students in rural Southern Virginia, where 1 in 4 families live below the poverty line. On those trips… nutrition staffers make sure to ‘engage with families’ as much as they can and try to catch sight of children,” says director for student support services Robin Owens.
**Read more about how the lockdown is increasing domestic abuse here.