When you are poor, even when times are bad, you are really in trouble. This was the case during the pandemic, and will continue to do so with inflation and rising energy costs. Because if you don’t have any cash, you will notice with full force when things get more expensive. Children especially in emergency situations are noticing how problems in their environment are becoming more and more focused. This is also confirmed by a new DAK poll.
Socially disadvantaged students are particularly suffering during the Corona period. Affected boys and girls suffer significantly more from negative changes in their quality of life caused by the epidemic than all comparison groups.
The DAK states that this applies to life satisfaction, health and psychological well-being. In particular, more and more children and young adults are complaining of frequent headaches, stomach aches or backaches – especially in families of low social standing. This is shown by the current DAK-Gesundheit prevention radar for the 2021/2022 school year.
For the school study, which is unique in Germany, IFT-Nord in Kiel surveyed about 18,000 boys and girls in grades 5-10 in a total of 13 federal states on behalf of the health insurance company and compared the results with previous years.
As a result, Andreas Sturm, CEO of DAK, called for coordinated action through health and family policy to promote the health of children and young people in Germany. For the Professional Association of Pediatricians, social inequality is on the rise.
When relief packages don’t help the income poor
This also confirms what Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband found in the poverty report she published on Tuesday 28 June. The pandemic and inflation do not affect everyone equally. “We have absolutely no sympathy for the federal government moving across the country as if it had a watering can, providing support where it was not needed at all, and only providing totally inadequate help when it was needed most,” Schneider said. .
The association criticizes the provision of only 2 billion euros of the total relief package of 29 billion euros in aid directed exclusively to low-income people. In addition, one-time payments “will be devoured by inflation” even before they are paid.
“The current DAK prevention radar shows that the health and life satisfaction of many children and young people from socially disadvantaged families has deteriorated badly during the pandemic,” says Andreas Storm, CEO of DAK.
“The results of numerous studies and investigations show great pressure to act. We must prevent the pandemic from creating a lost generation with health problems and psychological suffering. In the short term, I call for coordinated action through federal and state health and family policy to promote the health of children and young people” .
The DAK-Gesundheit Prevention Radar has been examining the physical and psychological well-being and health behavior of classes 5-10 since 2016. About 18,000 girls and boys from 1,100 classes in 13 federal states participated in the sixth survey wave by IFT-Nord in Kiel.
When children suffer the consequences of the epidemic
Accordingly, 29 percent of all school children reported a deterioration in their health due to the pandemic. In the case of socially disadvantaged children and youth, this percentage is significantly more than 38 percent.
Compared to the pre-Corona period, the proportion of all boys and girls who experience headaches, stomach or back pains at least once a week has increased by about a third.
In socially disadvantaged families, the increase is nearly half. A total of 24 percent of all respondents currently experience pain on a regular basis. Among the disadvantaged, 38 per cent. A comparable picture emerges regarding fatigue and tiredness: among socially deprived children, 70 percent feel tired and exhausted more often – in total 57 percent.
Dr. Thomas Fischbach, president of the Professional Association of Pediatricians, confirms the results of the DAK-Gesundheit study. “We see in our practices that in addition to organ-related diseases such as obesity, psychosomatic complaints such as frequent abdominal pain and headaches are also on the increase. And there are more general psychological problems such as lack of motivation and fatigue of depressive disorders. In general, it is socially deprived children that cause us The greatest concern. The pandemic is acting as an additional intensifier of social inequality, and federal politicians are so far watching indifferently.”
Loneliness and decreased life satisfaction
According to the DAK Prevention Radar, the epidemic has had an impact on life satisfaction for more than half of children and young adults. Overall, life satisfaction “significantly deteriorated” for 7.7 percent of those surveyed.
There are similar results for future prospects. In addition, every second pupil in the 2021/2022 school year had reduced mental health. In the socially disadvantaged group the proportion was 67 percent; Hardest hit here: The average 15-year-old girls in grades 5-10 have a share of 86 percent.
The statements made by many girls and boys on the topic of loneliness are also striking: the vast majority of all respondents (about 84 percent) experienced loneliness during their school years with COVID-19. Of those, about 39 percent reported feeling lonely more often because of the pandemic. Respondents with this condition are more likely than other children to say that friendships have suffered as a result of the pandemic.
“The current DAK prevention radar in various fields shows that the epidemic has had very different impacts and consequences depending on the social status of schoolchildren. It is assumed that children and young people of higher social standing have more resources necessary to review and categorize the exceptional situation, and ultimately survival well,” explains Professor Rainer Hanwinkel, Head of Studies at IFT-Nord in Kiel.
The Institute for Therapy and Health Research conducts annual preventive radar surveys and evaluates the results of the DAK-Gesundheit. “During the pandemic, children and young people are experiencing a significant degree of psychological stress and a loss of quality of life. Families with lower social status have fewer resources to adapt and need support.”