I still can't get over the creepy spectacle of Dr. Marc Siegel, a New York University professor of medicine, vehemently hawking "No Hugs Please" buttons for all schoolchildren last week.
"Let's give our kids all of these pins, 'No Hugs Please,'" Dr. Siegel urged Fox News host Tucker Carlson. "Let's show our kids courage. They're looking to parents for leadership," he insisted. "Vaccines are gonna emerge, we're gonna beat this thing, and then this" -- Dr. Siegel waved his yellow badge -- "goes in the garbage!"
Such fanaticism is neither "courage" nor "leadership." It's pure pandemic porn -- and it's making our children sick. "No Vaccine, No Touch, No School" is a recipe for inducing and exacerbating generational anxiety, desolation, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, existential angst, self-harm and suicide on an unprecedented scale.
The Hug Patrol have no scientific leg to stand on when it comes to promoting draconian no-contact regimes for students. Empirical data on COVID-19 transmission among children in educational settings are scarce, as a Lancet study published last week acknowledged. Australian researchers reported extremely low transmission rates in schools and day cares, concluding that the data "suggest children are unlikely to initiate, or propagate, outbreaks."
Moreover, the Aussie team noted, "Studies from multiple countries have consistently shown lower rates of COVID-19 and mild disease in children compared with adults, even in settings with much higher population-based disease rates than Australia." Greek and Swiss researchers arrived at similar conclusions regarding the low risk of child-to-child and child-to-adult transmissions. The Greek study, published in the Journal of Medical Virology, also reported on the higher frequency of mild symptoms or asymptomatic response in infected children versus infected adults.
A separate review of 16 studies involving children and the coronavirus published in the Journal of Global Health last month "identified only two studies reporting outbreaks of COVID-19 in school settings," with "data from population-based studies in Iceland, Italy, South Korea, Netherlands, California and a hospital-based study in the UK suggest(ing) children may be less likely to be infected."
Shutting kids out of a normal existence is infecting them with toxic worry, loneliness and panic. The Centers for Disease Control released new stats last week showing nearly 41% of survey respondents with "at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition," including "symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder related to the pandemic (26.3%)." Among 18-24-year-olds, more than 1 in 4 had contemplated suicide on the last 30 days. Previous CDC reports have identified suicide as the second leading cause of death for pre-teens and teens.
Mask hysteria, selective social distancing theater, dystopian online learning arrangements and the cancellation of the activities kids hold near and dear to them are not helping. Fear-mongers, power-grabbers and data-miners are denying students vital sunshine, fresh air, exercise, friendship, hugs and high-fives. (Meanwhile, back in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, youths have returned to class and are partying at music festivals and water parks.)
The University of Wisconsin released a study in July that found that nearly 70% of American high school athletes who received news this year about canceled sports are experiencing anxiety and depression "at levels that would typically require medical intervention" -- up 37% from past studies. In Ohio, where parents and children have protested school cancellations with heart-breaking signs reading "LET US PLAY!" Lt. Gov Jon Husted tweeted:
"What's the greater risk to people under age 25, canceling in-person learning & extracurriculars (sports) to protect them from COVID or leaving it to chance how they'll fill this time?"
School music programs in Ohio, Montana and Kentucky have been similarly decimated. Indiana's state music association canceled the competitive marching band season. At my Colorado Springs high school son's school district, some sports have resumed, but his musical theater productions were banned and his comedy improv troupe was canceled. In the age of COVID-19, child "safety" means no jokes allowed!
Most youth choirs are now virtual, with education officials citing a single COVID-19 outbreak involving an adult choir in Skagit County, Washington, back in March. More than 75% of those singers severely affected were age 65 or older. But the children must pay.
Science, biology and common sense are clear: A contactless world is a miserable world. If ever a cure were worse than the disease, the prolonged pandemic lockdown of our young people is it. Adult courage and leadership mean rising up against the control freaks for our children's health, sanity and futures. Give them hugs. Let them play. Restore their lives before we isolate them all to death.