Monday, October 3, 2022

Calling children ‘vectors’ during COVID-19 is turning into discrimination

Children have been targeted by the dehumanization of language and policy during the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing the needs of adults.

While we still don’t know the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children, early research into the pandemic suggested that children were much less likely than adults to suffer severe symptoms from the virus. Discussions of children revolved around their role in spreading the disease to adults. Soon, children began to be referred to as “vectors” of the disease.

This idiom is used to control the movement of children. Stores in Ireland referred to children as “vectors of disease” as a justification for limiting store entry. “Children are not victims,” ​​remarked one pediatrician when advising adults to limit contact between children, “children are vectors.”

harmful words

Referring to children as vectors, a term commonly used to describe animals or parasites, is derogatory. It is rare to see the word used to refer to human beings. Its use in this case suggests that we are prioritizing adults and encourages us to consider children with COVID only in terms of the impact it has on adults.

But children can and do suffer adverse effects from contracting COVID-19. Even when they have not caught the disease themselves, the pandemic has had a severe impact on young people. To help prevent the spread of the virus to the adult population, schools have been closed several times, with extremely harmful consequences for the well-being of children.

School closures can have many negative effects on children.
Colleen Michaels/Shutterstock

Children have lost valuable learning time, which has been difficult for many of them, but especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Lockdowns often meant students could not get mental health support – and the mental health of young people has been particularly affected by the pandemic. The closure of schools can put children at greater risk of violence and has increased hunger, leaving children without access to food normally provided at school.

Read more: Coronavirus: School closures mean increased risk of hunger for families around the world

Overall, the impact of school closures on children has been enormous. Yet we casually refer to them as disease-spreaders rather than as victims of the pandemic.

Closing schools is not the only policy decision about children with adults in mind. In May 2021, the UK Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization, which advises UK health departments on immunization, discussed the issue of immunization of children aged 12 to 15 years.

Minutes of the meeting show that one of the points the members considered was the “argument of allowing the virus to be transmitted among children”, thereby expanding immunity in children and increasing immunity in adults. At this May meeting, the committee finally decided not to recommend vaccination for this age group. The rollout of vaccinations for children aged 12 to 15 finally began in September 2021.

a vulnerable group

Discrimination against children is known as “childism”: when children are victims of injustice as a result of age-related differences between adults and children.

The use of language that reflects negative perceptions of children extends far beyond the pandemic. Children are often defined by their lack of adult abilities and are perceived as inferior to adults. A common example is the use of words such as “childish” or “teenage” to describe unwanted behavior.

Childism intersects with other forms of discrimination, such as sexism, racism and competence, increasing harm to the most vulnerable children. UN agency UNICEF has pointed to the risks faced by children with disabilities as their care is disrupted during the pandemic. In England, children from ethnic minority backgrounds may be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 infections.

Childism will continue to affect children long after the pandemic is over. However, COVID-19 must force us to confront often overlooked systems of prejudice and discrimination affecting the youngest members of society.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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