Social Democrats spokesperson for Education, Gary Gannon TD, has called on the Government to immediately set up a taskforce dedicated to dealing with the trauma faced by young people due to Covid-19.

Deputy Gannon stated:

“The effects of Covid-19 are insidious and could have longstanding consequences for our young people into the future if we don’t act now.

“That is why we in the Social Democrats are calling for the immediate establishment of an independent taskforce to try to measure the damage done. It could also prepare budgetary plans for the supports needed to mitigate against the trauma and regression endured by our young people and create a pathway to recovery.

“We will fail our young people if we only acknowledge that what they have lost due to Covid-19 is academic in nature. Almost immediately after the schools closed there was a broad understanding that these are not just buildings for learning, but places of play and socialisation, particularly for students with additional educational needs. We also know that not every home has been a safe place for children during this time.

“Despite significant increases to services like the ISPCC, which operates the Childline service, data available for 2020 so far shows a reduction in referrals to the Child and Family Agency, Tusla. The Child Care Law Reporting Project has also detailed the notable impact of the restrictions on children and young people.

“Outside of those who have encountered adverse childhood experiences, many of the young people I have spoken to over the last several months had high levels of stress and anxiety due to a fear of bringing Covid-19 home and making someone sick. This is acutely true for students living with extremely vulnerable family members. In addition, students facing State examinations have endured considerable stress due to the uncertainty around their assessments.

“Recovery plans for young people must be proportional to the damage done and extensive in their remit. Immediate action by a special Covid youth taskforce is required in the first instance.”

February 16, 2021

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