A woman was arrested earlier this month after she put her thirteen-year-old son in the trunk of her car to avoid exposure to Covid while she drove him to a testing site. A week later, a mother tweeted a photo of her son’s badly injured ankle, claiming it wasn’t “safe” to seek treatment outside the home for fear of the Omicron variant. Another mom kept her fifteen-year-old daughter home for remote learning all of 2021, even as the girl became depressed, ravaged with anxiety and suffered unhealthy weight loss — all in the name of...

A woman was arrested earlier this month after she put her thirteen-year-old son in the trunk of her car to avoid exposure to Covid while she drove him to a testing site. A week later, a mother tweeted a photo of her son’s badly injured ankle, claiming it wasn’t “safe” to seek treatment outside the home for fear of the Omicron variant. Another mom kept her fifteen-year-old daughter home for remote learning all of 2021, even as the girl became depressed, ravaged with anxiety and suffered unhealthy weight loss — all in the name of protection from a virus highly unlikely to affect her in any significant way.

Child endangerment is now, apparently, an acceptable aspect of parenting if performed in the name of “safety.” The woman who put her son in the trunk will not be charged. The one who kept her son from medical treatment won’t be bothered. The mother of the depressed teenager will be applauded for the “care” she provided.

In the two years since the pandemic started, schools, parents and governments have sacrificed the wellbeing of children for the “protection” of panicked adults in a myriad of disturbing ways.

It’s particularly hard to justify this one: the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, Canada is soon to evict all unvaccinated patients and visitors over five years old and up, including cancer patients. In Massachusetts, police dogs have recently been employed to sniff out Covid inside schools in order to locate the “diseased” children. At another school, a woman said her daughter got detention after being “caught” with her mask pulled to her chin in the bathroom. No breaks allowed for the mask mafia.

What warrants these extreme actions for children, the least likely to be harmed by the virus? At first, precautions were sensible. When Covid hit, we weren’t sure how children would be affected. It was quickly discovered, however, that children were blessedly and largely unaffected. Not only were they less likely to get or transmit the virus, but it manifested as a light cold — or without symptoms — when they did. As of 2022, the hospitalization rate for children with Covid is as low as 0.1 percent. At the same time, we learned that demographics most affected by the virus were fairly specific: elderly, obese and immunocomprised individuals with secondary conditions like cancer and diabetes. Risks increase more significantly at age fifty and obese individuals are three times as likely to be hospitalized with Covid.

Clearly, most kids don’t fit into these categories. And yet, the most naturally incubated citizens in our society haven’t had a voice. Their schools were canceled, faces shielded, communities shuttered — and parents who opposed these moves had little recourse. In what kind of upside-down world do we put the wellbeing of adults before children?

When schools closed, the more privileged were able to form “education pods” and get access to parents working from home who could help with remote learning — but the most vulnerable children were left to fend for themselves. Already far behind in terms of educational skills, poor students in urban neighborhoods lost even more. The long-term effects of these choices for kids will be devastating as they reach adulthood having never adequately learned the foundations they need to be  successful in life.

Even when schools resumed, masks made learning and connection hard — especially for the youngest students. One study showed a 23 percent downgrade in the learning development of young kids, thanks to masks. My nearly four-year-old daughter has attended daycare most of the pandemic, having rarely seen the faces of her teachers. There is a noticeable difference between her development and my son’s at the same age. Could the fact that she can’t see her teachers annunciate words or display the correct way to speak be a factor?

I recently helped in the infant classroom at her school. The little boy I was playing with looked at me quizzically, unable to see my smile beneath my mask. I briefly pulled down my mask so he could see me smiling, and he broke out into the biggest grin. My heart immediately sank, thinking of all the babies and toddlers not seeing that validating facial expression throughout their days. Maybe it sounds small, but seeing my smile changed his entire demeanor and approach to playing with me the rest of the hour. Imagine the long-term effects of this on children day after day.

Scientific American reports masks are detrimental barriers to babies’ speech and language development and the National Institute of Health reports that masks hinder emotional development as well.  On top of that, dentists are reporting a downturn in dental hygiene thanks to “mask mouth” — and just imagine the impact masks have had on the deaf community at large, not to mention deaf children who need to learn to read lips to survive and thrive in life. All of this data comes with the 2022 confirmation from the scientific community that “cloth masks are not effective” in fighting Covid. Yet schools continue to require them and people keep wearing them as if such barriers are doing anything more than marinading in kid spit and causing adult acne.

We know the virus is virtually harmless to children, yet the stories of parents isolating their children in their rooms for weeks at a time aren’t rare. I still see toddlers masked up in public and strip a saliva-soaked mask off my six-year-old at the end of each school day. The hysteria has extended to vaccines, as well. A woman was arrested this month for giving a vaccine to a minor in her home without parental permission. We’ve truly lost our minds as a society.

At the same time, teen suicides are spiking, children in poverty are falling off the radar, schools are forcing students to eat outside in the cold, kids with cancer are being kicked out the Ronald McDonald House, the hearing-impaired are living in hell, babies are emotionally and developmentally stunted and we’ve instilled a constant, low-grade fear into children that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

If you want to talk about systemic oppression, talk about this: the systemic abuse of children in the name of Covid-19. The consequences will haunt us for a lifetime.