GUEST BLOG: Stop Sacrificing our Children at the Altar of Adult Safety
By Councilman Anthony Piagentini
We must stop sacrificing the health and futures of children at the altar of adult safety or useless virtue signaling. To accomplish this, policy makers should remove all restrictions affecting children related to COVID-19 immediately. That includes removing all mask mandates in schools. Before you convulse with hate believing that I want to hurt your child or your family, allow me a moment to prove that these policies do nothing to stop the spread of COVID and they are causing more harm particularly when long term impacts are factored in.
In the very beginning of the pandemic, a study was published by the University of Kentucky Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise. Governor Beshear cited its conclusion that approximately 2,000 lives were saved by his initial ‘Healthy-At-Home’ initiative. Unfortunately, he failed to also cite this line from the same study, “we found no evidence that school closures influenced the growth rate in confirmed COVID-19 cases”. In laymen’s terms, there is zero evidence that school closures did anything to slow the spread of COVID.
The issue they cite as to why this is probably true is the economic concept of ‘substitution’. The simplest explanation in this context is that kids simply went from not socially distancing at school to not socially distancing in another location.
Fast forward to today. School is one of the only places that children are wearing compulsory masks. The same children that attend these schools are playing sports, going to birthday parties, and doing all other forms of socialization the moment they leave the school. Now more than ever, there is no way that the time these children are in school is stopping the spread of COVID when they are immediately going to other social events with those same children after school. This logic also applies to the teachers in these schools.
I recently asked the Public Health Director about the top causes of death for children. I was initially sent to the national data published by the CDC. Depending on the age of your child, COVID is either the 11th or 12th most likely cause of death. Before you panic at that number, the top 5 among children age 5-9 years old is accidents, cancer, birth defects, homicide, and then heart disease. For children age 10-14 the top 5 are accidents, suicide, cancer, homicide, and birth defects. Focusing on the 10-14 year old children, they are 27 times more likely to die from an accident, 18 times more likely to die from suicide, and 9 times more likely to be murdered.
One of the most common places that a child is ‘accidentally’ killed is in their parent’s car. If you are advocating for kids to wear masks in school but you put your kid in a car and drive them there, you are engaging in an action that is far more likely to kill your child then sending them to school without a mask. Further, what have children done more of during the pandemic than ever? Sat in front of screens. Depending on the type of screen time there are causal links to reduced academic achievement, language delays, depression, and suicide (particularly if the screen time includes social media).
Those are the immediate impacts, but the long-term problems are just as bad. A friend that worked for a Democrat Indiana Governor commented that they would predict future adult jail capacity needs by the current illiteracy rate in public schools. The pandemic has resulted in some of the worst academic achievement and standardized testing results ever with a growing achievement gap in low income and minority students.
Before you think I am part of a vast right-wing conspiracy or anti-vax, I am vaccinated as is my entire family. Further, just this last week, NPR, the Washington Post (written by infectious disease doctors), The Atlantic, and the New York times posted stories advocating for the same. These media outlets aren’t known for their conservative opinion sections.
Let’s focus on the actual public health threats to children like accidents, suicide, and low academic achievement rather than public health mandates that are creating more problems than they are solving.
About the author: Anthony Piagentini is a Republican Metro Council Member who represents Louisville's 19th District.
The views expressed by the author in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views expressed by Pegasus Institute