Corona pandemic: Do politicians care enough about children?


As of: 07/29/2022 4:53 PM

Children and young people from vulnerable backgrounds are particularly affected by the coronavirus crisis. A pandemic means constant stress for this group. Does politics care enough?

Written by Corina Emundts,

The results of the study on the consequences of the epidemic on children and young people are now overwhelming. The physical and psychological consequences are recognized – especially for the younger group, who are disadvantaged anyway. Whether it is through a precarious family situation in which children are already suffering because of poverty, disease or violence. Whether it is due to an immigrant background, as parents cannot support children in acquiring language.

Politicians know this, the Traffic Light Coalition-appointed Corona Expert Council devoted a separate paper to this age group in February — with the call to “prioritize child well-being,” again in its latest recommendations for fall 2022. But experts are concerned the pandemic is once again on the Younger account. And there, above all, it continues to hurt those who are already having a hard time. “It is not enough to say that schools remain open – the accompanying concepts are needed,” says Julian Schmitz, professor of child and adolescent psychotherapy at the University of Leipzig.

“Additional High Performance for Youth”

The president of the German Psychiatric Association, Gebhard Henschel, asserts that:

The loads on the described assemblies are very high and require a great deal of additional work from children and developing youth. The greater the burdens independently of the epidemic, the stronger the effects of the pandemic’s additional burdens – and the fewer options for protection and compensation.

The pandemic is in its third year: It also means that politicians must learn lessons from their past actions. This becomes especially evident when it comes to closing schools – they shouldn’t be around anymore. However, the initial situation changed in the third year of the epidemic. Children as young as five and younger can now be vaccinated, and many have already contracted the disease — or even both. Accordingly, many non-risk families, in which no one has pre-existing illnesses, are now coping with the virus in a comfortable way. They expect the old normal in schools and day care centers.

An infection protection policy should be just as relevant to them as it is to caring parents, teachers and educators who want more general protection requirements. Even more so for so-called shadow families who are severely self-isolating because a family member was previously ill and the infection may be life-threatening. One thing is clear: politics cannot please everyone here.

But the policy dilemma changed in the third year of the epidemic: In the first year and a half of the epidemic without the possibility of vaccination, they had to balance the right to on-site education – not only in homeschooling – and, on the other hand, the health safety of schoolchildren, their parents and teachers. The dilemma now is different: on the one hand, the group of severely affected children and young adults does not want to be isolated again in order to further impede their development – that is, to keep daycares and schools open. On the other hand, the infection process must be kept under control in the event of a more virulent and deadly virus.

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

It’s no secret that Greens and SPD Minister Karl Lauterbach still disagrees with the FDP to this day – and this became clear during coalition negotiations. In addition to fiscal policy, Corona’s policy is one of the main points of contention in the alliance. But the interests of the federal states in the Infection Protection Act (IfSG) must also be considered. In preparation for the start of the new school year, federal state health ministers have asked the federal government to clarify the legal framework ahead of the parliamentary summer recess. without success.

It’s about wearing masks indoors, which federal states cannot require for schools under the current version of the Infection Protection Act – without the Bundestag resolving the nationwide epidemic situation or the IfSG correction, the current version of which is valid until April 23. September applies. The CDU school minister in North Rhine-Westphalia can only “recommend” it in her current action plan this week. Your federal state will begin school operations again on August 10.

But it is not enough from a political point of view to look at the law on protection against infection. A vaccination strategy and testing regulations are needed, Health Minister Lauterbach stresses. “If there is a testing strategy, you also need an isolation strategy,” Schmitz says. For example, awareness of social work that does not leave stressed families alone. There was “nothing in sight”.

But it is also important to quickly implement the political goals of the Alliance Agreement, which are now important for children and youth. Adequate treatment places, eg. “Especially in areas with fewer registered therapists, this can lead to long waiting times,” the Association of Psychotherapists says. It is therefore important that the places for psychotherapy be expanded, especially in structurally weak areas. Funding healthy eating and exercise programmes. Both: Obesity and lack of exercise among children and young people have increased as a result of this epidemic.

Therapy venues, digital and sports shows

Much remains to be done when it comes to the Alliance’s goal of digitization: Schools need more support and resources to equip themselves and train faculty in a way that enables students in quarantine to keep up with lessons well. After all, children from families with several children can have longer home quarantine periods even without school closures, for example if siblings are infected one by one.

Lots to do for the federal and state governments. All this is actually talking about the children and early youth summit to deal with the epidemic – in the Chancellery.

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