Commissioner for Children and Young People Koulla Yiasouma has issued a stark warning to society: the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the current young generation will be felt “for years to come”.
Koulla Yiasouma told belfastmedia.com she was concerned at schools' closures, the pressures of homeschooling and the massive social loss of our children and young people due to the pandemic.
“We know that children not going to school has a significant impact on their lives in a range of ways, not least their education,” she said. “When they returned to school last September, we saw much higher levels of stress, anxiety and mental ill-health than I expected. I have been shocked by it and how stressful children of all ages have found the return.
“We need to learn the lessons of the first lockdown and apply them to when this current lockdown ends. “Schools are more prepared now for home learning. We are seeing more children of key workers still attending schools but I would like to see more evidence that each vulnerable child followed up."
The Children's Commissioner has stressed the need to build back fairer for our young people.
“The impact of Covid on this generation of children will be felt for many years to come," she added. "I take my hat off to children and families for the way they are coping. We will get through this and everyone, including me has their backs."
And she warns that a price will be paid for locking down society in order to keep people safe from the coronavirus.
"The actual physical interaction that children are missing is huge," she told belfastmedia.com. Social interaction online does not replace this. Often, only the good stuff is posted online so there is that false view that everyone is having a really good time. We need to continue to engage with every child. I hope that we can see them back to school as soon as possible when this virus is under more control.
“Children of all ages have lost so much, including birthday parties, Transfer Test celebrations, A Level and GCSE results, school formals, etc. It is heartbreaking in many ways.”
Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma will be guest speaker at the virtual Blackboard Awards 2021 o 26 February which will salute Teaching Heroes of the Pandemic.