Lockdown Harmed Emotional Development of Children, UK Study Finds

A mother and son in face masks in the rain on Market Street during a third national lockdown on Thursday 14th January 2021. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Almost half of children had their emotional development harmed by lockdowns with parents reporting a dip in social and emotional skills manifested in being badly behaved or being easily scared, a new report claims.

A study of 6,095 parents with children aged between four and 16 by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the UCL Institute of Education looking at the impact of the labour market during the Coronavirus era has returned a series of concerning findings about the experience of families. Some 47 per cent reported their children’s “socio-emotional development” got worse during the pandemic, and just 16 per cent said it improved.

The data shows within that trend, the report states, that “Parents of girls and younger children, and those who were furloughed, were more likely to report worsening in their children’s socio-emotional skills”. The survey screened for emotional and behavioural problems, it said, by asking whether children were “generally obedient”, “constantly fidgetting or squirming”, and being “easily scared” before and during lockdown.

A major cause for these changes, the report suggested, was the damage caused to the labour market by lockdown restrictions, noting that the most obvious changes to children’s emotional skills were among those whose parents experienced “transition in the labour market”, or in other words lost their job or was furloughed. Those children whose parents were economically stable through Coronavirus were least impacted.

Summarising the findings, the report stated: “The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many aspects of children’s lives, with impacts on their social and emotional development as well as their educational attainment…  parents’ labour market experiences during the pandemic could have affected both a household’s resources and the quality and quantity of time parents and children spent together.”

The findings appear to mirror other findings, which have consistently stated that children were harmed by the enormous and repressive lockdowns created by governments in response to the 2019 novel Coronavirus. In Germany this year a study reported 73 per cent of children and young people “still feel stressed after the pandemic”Die Welt reported in Feburary, stating: “Learning problems, depression or eating disorders: The effects of the pandemic restrictions are massive for minors.”

The children of single parents, poor households, and migration background families were particularly impacted it stated, and the federal government wanted to offer more support to help children cope “with the psychosocial stress caused by the corona pandemic”. Another study found the reading ability of young children took a major hit during lockdown.

Other research from the United Kingdom underlines the issue. In April 2022 it was reported that: “Children in the UK have faced ‘delayed’ development as a result of harsh COVID restrictions, while others even saw their development regress during periods of lockdown, a government report has found.”



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