A new study has revealed that pandemic lockdowns had a profound impact on children's development, as 50% of parents in the U.K. have observed a significant decline in their children's emotional and social abilities.
The study, conducted by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, indicates that children aged four to seven were substantially more susceptible (52%) to these effects compared to those aged 12 to 15 years (42%).
Additionally, the study discovered that children of parents who were compelled to take a leave of absence from their jobs, or furloughed, faced a considerably higher probability of declining socio-emotional skills compared to children whose parents weren't furloughed (51% versus 45%), Summit Newsreports.
In essence, children from families that encountered difficulties because of the lockdown were notably more prone to experience severe developmental problems.
The study involved inquiring if the children had begun to exhibit behaviors such as being “easily scared”, “constantly fidgeting or squirming”, or “generally obedient.”
Andrew McKendrick, an IFS research economist and the author of the study, made a comment about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children. He stated, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, children from all backgrounds saw their social and emotional skills worsen considerably.”
“Children lived through many changes during these years: school closures, lack of contact with friends and family, and potentially devastating severe illness or death among loved ones,” McKendrick stated, adding that the lockdowns have had “multi-generational impacts.”
“Our research shows that another important driver of children’s declining skills was the economic disruptions experienced by their parents, whether or not those disruptions led to a large income loss,” McKendrick noted.
Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza responded to the study by stating, “I am deeply concerned by the findings of this research on children’s social and emotional skills.”
“This study shows that the disruption the pandemic caused to children’s development has been long-lasting,” she added.
Arabella Skinner, a representative from the parents' advocacy organization UsForThem, provided her insights on the research. She noted, “There were many occasions when warnings were ignored,” and asserted that the findings demonstrate how children turned into the “collateral damage” of lockdowns.
“It is an unavoidable fact that many of our children’s development has been negatively impacted by the pandemic restrictions,” Skinner stated, adding that “The government must take action now — they need to support all the services which support our children and ensure that this never happens again.”
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