CBS News reporter Jan Crawford told the network that “the crushing impact” of overly strict COVID-19 lockdowns on children, including a massively elevated “risk of suicide” among teenagers, is “the greatest underreported story of the past year.”
“My kids hear me rant about this every day, so I might as well tell you guys: It’s the crushing impact that our COVID policies have had on young kids and children [who are] by far the least serious risk for serious illness,” said Crawford on Sunday’s “Face The Nation.”
“You know, a healthy teenager has a one in a million chance of getting and dying from COVID, which is way lower than dying in a car wreck on a road trip, but they have suffered and sacrificed the most — especially kids in underrepresented at-risk communities. And now we have the Surgeon General saying there’s a mental health crisis among our kids. The risk of suicide attempts among girls now up 51% this year, [and] black kids [are] nearly twice as likely as white kids to die by suicide,” she said.
Suicide rates among all young people aged 12-17 began to rise by May 2020, the third month of the nation’s COVID-19 lockdowns, “especially girls,” according to the CDC. “During February 21–March 20, 2021, suspected suicide attempt ED visits were 50.6% higher among girls aged 12–17 years than during the same period in 2019.” Suicides continued to rise, 39.1% higher in the early months of 2021 than in 2020.
Crawford cited “school closures, lockdowns, [and] cancellation of sports” as driving the mental health crisis among young people. “You couldn’t even go on a playground in the D.C. area without cops … shooing the kids off — tremendous negative impact on kids, and it’s been an afterthought. It’s hurt their dreams, their future learning, loss, risk of abuse, their mental health.”
Many of those who died by suicide had been viewed as popular and well-adjusted. As The Daily Wire previously reported:
Spencer Smith, a sophomore at Brunswick High School, felt increasingly isolated as a result of distance learning. He had dreams of playing lineman on the Brunswick High School football team, but those hopes were dashed when it was replaced by flag football.
“I just lost a son because he couldn’t be with his friends,” Spencer’s mother, Angela, wrote on Facebook. “He was trapped in the house. He felt like he lost his friends and had a hard time with his school work.”
Mental health issues have increased throughout society. The number of Americans reporting they suffered from symptoms of anxiety and depression nearly quadrupled during 2020, compared to the previous year (42% compared to 11%), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Crawford rightly cited rising rates of child abuse due to the pandemic, as well. Child abuse tripled in March-September 2020 compared to the previous year, according to a study released this fall.
“If our policies don’t reflect a more measured and reasonable approach for our children, they will be paying for our generation’s decisions, the rest of their lives,” said Crawford. “And that, to me, is the greatest underreported story of the past year.
“Well said and frightening,” replied host Margaret Brennan.
The show’s fellow panelists agreed. “Mine is going to seem awfully paltry compared to that,” said David Martin. “I have to agree with Jan,” said Weijia Jiang. “Obviously, as parents we’re always thinking about … the long-term impact on their development. I think is something that we just don’t know yet, and perhaps that’s one reason why it’s not reported as much.”
But a few journalists demurred. Ed O’Keefe said the greatest underreported story was the Biden administration’s failure to extend any kind of amnesty for illegal immigrants living in the United States. As many as 22 million illegal immigrants currently reside in this country, according to a Yale study. Democrats tried to add amnesty for an estimated 6.5 million illegal immigrants in the president’s signature “Build Back Better” plan.
Nikole Killion said the greatest issue was flagging support for the Violence Against Women Act.
Domestic violence rose by between 25% and 33% globally during the early part of the pandemic, according to a study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
— Jan Crawford (@JanCBS) December 26, 2021
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free hotline for individuals in crisis or distress or for those looking to help someone else. It is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.