Suicide attempts among Canadian children have doubled during COVID-19 pandemic
A Canadian children’s charity has declared a state of emergency for children’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Children First Canada has launched the #codePINK campaign, which aims to raise awareness about pediatric emergencies.
The figures reported by the campaign are devastating:
● A 200% increase in hospital admissions for drug addiction among children over the past year
● A 100% increase in suicide attempts among children during the same period
● 70 percent of children aged 6 to 18 say the pandemic has damaged their mental health in some way
● 62 percent of parents admit the pandemic has worsened the mental health of at least one of their children
● 61 percent of parents expect the residual effects of the pandemic to impact their child’s mental health even after the pandemic has ended
While the pandemic has undoubtedly dramatically worsened the mental health crisis facing children, the real cause of the dramatic increase in suicides and drug addiction, which began long before the emergence of COVID-19, is the capitalist profit system.
The statistics cited by #codePINK are ultimately a by-product of the disastrous destruction of social services for decades by all major political parties, from the New Social Democratic Party to liberals and conservatives. Mental health services across Canada are in dire straits, with patients often waiting months to see specialists and receive support. Public education is also in a deplorable state after decades of austerity, which has increased class sizes, reduced support staff and placed increased demands on already overworked teachers.
Meanwhile, the same politicians and political parties who keep repeating the claim that there is “no money” for essential health care and mental health services have spent hundreds of billions of dollars. dollars to banks and large corporations, and increased military spending by tens of billions of dollars.
Even though Canadian billionaires have increased their wealth by $ 78 billion in the past year, no significant additional resources have been made available to support children and their families. The millions of laid-off workers received $ 500 a week under the Canada Emergency Benefit, pushing tens of thousands of families into poverty.
Provincial governments across the country, under the leadership of the federal Liberals, have pursued a savage policy of mass infection, including keeping schools open to in-person learning. The underlying goal of this policy was to keep children in classrooms as much as possible, so that their parents could go to work and generate profits for the businesses. This policy was continued even as COVID-19 spread in the second wave last winter, which claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people across Canada.
When the authorities felt they had no choice but to resort to distance education, they pursued a policy of deliberate sabotage. The children and their families, not to mention the teachers, were largely on their own. Hardly any equipment or support has been provided to ease the transition to online learning, including much needed social support for students facing an unprecedented situation that has put incredible strain on their mental health.
In partnership with some of the country’s top children’s hospitals and pediatric organizations, Children’s First Canada is using the #codePINK platform to lobby governments to invest more and support improved mental health outcomes. They point out that for years all governments in Canada have seriously underfunded mental health supports. This has had a disproportionate impact on working-class communities, where individuals are twice as likely to be hospitalized for self-harm as their counterparts in affluent neighborhoods.
According to Sara Austin, CEO of Children First Canada, “We just haven’t seen the solid investments that are really needed in our health care system, especially when it comes to the mental health of our children, but even simple things like access to rehabilitation services or life-saving surgeries for children, children are sometimes put on a waiting list for months or even years, and the situation gets worse by the day.
An important but disturbing feature of their campaign is the demand for a return to classroom learning as the global pandemic rages out of control.
Campaign organizers have called for a summit between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers to address their concerns. Such a meeting, however, would only be used to provide unwarranted scientific legitimacy to the will of the ruling class to end all restrictions on the spread of the virus.
A return to classroom learning would lead to thousands of infections in children, especially given their low vaccination rates – those under 12 are still not eligible for vaccination. These children would then infect their family members and the wider community, fueling a resurgence of the pandemic. To date, there have been over 271,000 cases of COVID-19 among youth 19 and under, representing 19.2% of all infections, the highest proportion of any age group.
Capitalist governments around the world have used a mixture of pseudo-science, hand-picked medical research and outright lies to advance the claim that schools are not major vectors of COVID infection- 19 and that children are not at risk of serious illness. the virus.
This was most blatantly demonstrated in February, when US President Joe Biden outright lied to a sophomore, telling her that she and her family were at no risk of infection. A barrage of editorials in major US newspapers followed, mistakenly claiming schools could safely reopen, even as classroom transmission helped bring the disastrous winter and spring waves of the pandemic to the states. United and Canada. This paved the way for the reopening of schools across the continent.
The majority of school districts in Canada have remained open for at least part of classroom instruction until the end of the current school year. However, millions of workers have chosen to let their children learn from a distance. A survey in June found that a majority of respondents (59%) opposed returning students to classrooms in the fall without getting the vaccine.
In conjunction with the inadequate and haphazard performance of distance learning, the latter’s new attempt to scapegoat for declining children’s mental health is squarely aimed at shattering any remaining working class opposition to the full reopening of schools. schools.
The campaign to reopen the ruling class has produced the desired effect on part of the middle class, represented by pediatricians and child health professionals. On June 4, an open letter was sent to Progressive Conservative Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, demanding the immediate reopening of schools and the provision of classroom instruction for summer and fall school. Similar letters have been sent to provincial governments across Canada.
Signed by more than 400 medical professionals, the letter’s arguments for reopening the schools reflect the rhetoric articulated by the most blatant supporters of the “collective immunity” policy, which has been completely debunked by science. The nightmare unfolding in the UK shows what lies ahead for Canada if such a path is followed. There, the number of new daily cases caused by the Delta variant has exceeded 50,000 and the death rate is rising rapidly.
In a recent column on the current outbreak in the UK, the BMJ (formerly the British medical journal) clearly explained how school transmission helped fuel the emerging fourth wave of the pandemic. Looking at outbreaks of the more transmissible Delta variant up to the end of May, Public Health England identified 140 outbreaks in schools, the most of any setting. As the BMJ has said, “the spread of the delta variant has likely played a significant role in the exponential increases that we are seeing in England cases and hospitalizations in North West England”.
While the pediatric concern for children’s mental health is well founded, capitalist governments across the country have absolutely no interest in devoting additional resources to the safe resumption of public education. On the contrary, the concerns outlined in the doctors’ letters are shamelessly presented by these governments as proof that all school doors must be reopened with virtually no public health restrictions.
A situation in which the ruling class feels free to promote its murderous policy of collective immunity is primarily the responsibility of the unions and their pseudo-left auxiliaries. From the start of the pandemic, they supported this policy and ruled out any union action to oppose it. In April of this year, Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, urged the provincial government to “safely” resume classroom teaching, knowing full well that the Conservatives right-wing extremists had no intention of keeping children and their families safe.
Teachers, students, parents and other sections of the working class who want to fight for a sound science-based approach to tackling the pandemic, which must include investing billions of dollars to fund comprehensive mental health services for all children who need it, must join the All Canada Base Educators’ Safety Committee (CERSC). Visit our Facebook page or contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CERSC advocates for the cessation of all in-person learning and non-core business activities until the pandemic is over, as well as the payment of full wages to all workers and families so that they can make their own way. take refuge in their homes until COVID-19 is eliminated. The resources to finance these demands exist in abundance, but they must be expropriated from billionaires, banks and corporations by the working class mobilized on the basis of a socialist and internationalist program.