The Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released the results of a survey about the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on children in the state, which it calls “alarming.”
“In the nine months since the issuance of the COVID-19 emergency declaration, our patients have experienced a major disruption in their lives, including disruptions to academic structure, participation in activities, peer interactions, lifestyle, and overall physical and emotional health,” the group explained. “To better identify and address the concerns of our patients and providers in Virginia, the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a survey in December 2020 of 203 pediatric providers in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Of the 203 providers surveyed, 98 percent reported an increase in childhood anxiety, along with 95 percent who reported an uptick in childhood depression.
“Even more concerning is the increase in suicidal ideation in children and adolescents with 58% of providers reporting an increase,” the AAP said. “This is in line with what others are reporting throughout the country.”
Eight-five percent of the 203 providers reported an increase in “behavioral problems” among children, while 99.5 percent of the providers report an increase in stress levels among parents. More than 80 percent of the providers noticed increased unemployment levels among parents, while 56 percent reported an increase in food insecurity and 45 percent reported an increase in housing insecurity.
According to the survey, parents are also struggling to balance their children’s remote learning with their own work schedules.
“Other findings of this survey include an increase in substance abuse. Of the 203 respondents, 29% reported seeing an increase in adolescent drug, alcohol or marijuana use,” the report said. “Also, 43% of providers are seeing an increase in eating disorders.”
The AAP described the mental health effects of the lockdowns as “very concerning.”
Almost all of the providers reported issues with remote learning, a widespread result of the COVID-19 lockdowns. The city of Lynchburg recently reported a massive rise in failing grades during the 2020-2021 school year, as compared to the 2019-2020 school year.
Just over half of the providers reported increasing ADHD diagnoses.
Further, children’s physical health is suffering, according to findings of the survey.
“Many providers are concerned about a decrease in overall child and adolescent general health,” the report said. “In fact, 93% of providers report seeing a decline in daily minutes of physical activity in children and adolescents, with 84% reporting an increase in obesity. Further, 81% of providers are seeing an increase in sleep problems in their patients.”
After providing the results of the survey, the AAP encouraged schools to adopt “mitigation strategies” to get children back in the classroom as soon as possible.
Perhaps the best summation of the findings, though, came in the form of a tweet from the AAP.
“New survey of pediatricians shows kids are not doing well,” the group said.
New survey of pediatricians shows kids are not doing well. https://t.co/0gvKyPV786😥
— Virginia Chapter AAP (@VAPediatricians) February 8, 2021
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.