July 20, 2020 (Romans One) — The North Carolina governor has issued a decree that all students returning to school in the fall must wear a mask and social distance. This, despite the fact that 99.9 percent of children who get COVID don’t die from it and most don’t even have symptoms. Comparably, more children K–12 die from various other forms of the flu than from COVID, yet we are perpetuating a culture of fear among children in a form of politicized mass hysteria that treats COVID as if it were the Black Plague, which had a 100 percent mortality rate in its respiratory form across ALL demographics.
I have to ask, What are we doing to our children? Some would say we’re protecting them. Others would add that we’re protecting any vulnerable adults they might come in contact with — despite growing evidence that young children are not contagious because the virus does not hang onto them like it does older people. We are also getting more evidence that people are not as contagious when they’re asymptomatic, as once believed, which means that standard protocol for any sickness would be sufficient — stay at home if you’re sick or if you’re immuno-compromised.
Instead of using common sense, we’re covering our young children and enshrouding them in an environment of fear, all the while calling it “kindness to others.” This could have damaging long-term effects on our children that far outweigh any threat from COVID. Children are extremely vulnerable psychologically and emotionally, especially when their brains are still developing and behaviors imprint on neurological connections that can cause disruptions to normal development.
They are also in the tender years of developing socially, when they learn how to be both strong individuals yet responsible within a group, when they learn to be independent and distinct from the collective, yet aware of social responsibilities and relationships that interplay with their personal responsibilities and healthy self-interest. Yet, this panic over COVID is disrupting these stages of development and can have dangerous consequences for them as adults and for society at large.
When you impose irrational fear on children, you are in a sense traumatizing them. You are creating an atmosphere in which they are reacting to events around them in which they don’t feel any control. They can’t escape from it, they have to do what fearful adults tell them, and they trust authorities in their lives to do what’s best for them — when this doesn’t happen, they’re trapped and their normal development of relationships is laced with fear and panic. The long-term effects of childhood trauma are manifold. It creates an inability to trust, to properly regulate emotions, to productively handle conflict, and to develop healthy relationships, especially those having to do with authority. Fear drives them away from a normal ability to love.
While it is certainly good to teach children to be thoughtful of others, this can take a dark turn when “being thoughtful to others” is based on a lie and isn’t really being thoughtful at all, but is just a fear response to bad information and political propaganda. Telling children they might die of a disease they won’t likely die from is cruel. It creates unhealthy fear and trauma. Protecting children from monsters that don’t really exist generates insecurity instead of strength.
The best way to raise children is to empower them to face their fears and to become strong. This is as much true for their spirits and their minds as their bodies. COVID is a perfect example. By exposing children to the virus, they are strengthened in their immunity to it. This doesn’t mean there isn’t risk. Every time a child walks out the door, he is at risk. He could die in a car accident. He could get the flu and die. He could fall out of a tree and die. He could dive into a pool and die. These realities of the fragility of life are why parents must help children look threats in the face in a realistic but safe way. This is why the fairy tales of old were so good in their horror. The Little Mermaid didn’t become a princess and live happily ever after. She lived in pain and then turned into sea foam and then into a spirit in the wind. Little Red Riding Hood didn’t escape the terrifying wolf who pretended to be her grandmother. She was eaten alive.
Why tell these stories to children? Were our forefathers decadent and sadistic? No, they understood that by teaching children to face their fears in a safe context, they will be made strong. They aren’t protected from life, but they aren’t terrorized by it either. We live in a strange time in which we’re both terrorizing and protecting them at the same time. We’re making them afraid of things they don’t need to be afraid of while shielding them from risks and realities that none of us can control.
Even worse, we’re doing this while exposing them to all other kinds of spiritual and emotional corruptions and abuses without a thought to protecting them. They watch all sorts of decadence, violence, and sexualized imagery on television without any “moral to the story.” They’re spoiled and raised with an attitude of entitlement. Their eternal souls are neglected as parents spend more time feeding their kids entertainment than the Word of God. The result is children who are afraid of the wrong things, spiritually vulnerable, and emotionally weak.
Even their social training is off-base. While we should certainly teach our children to love their neighbors, to think of others more highly than they think of themselves, and to be humble, we shouldn’t put collective interests above their own self-interest because the majority says so. When I refer to self-interest, I’m not talking about selfishness. I’m referring to a healthy individuality that cultivates independent thinking and the ability to stand on one’s own if necessary.
If a child can’t grow up to stand on his own two feet and be willing to be cast out from the group for all the right reasons, he has been raised to be a serf, to have a slave mindset, and to be unable to be salt and light in a world that demands assimilation and compliance. Christians must be particularly mindful of this because we are called to be in the world but not of it, to stand for Christ, not ourselves or the demands of others, to put Him above even our brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers.
Teaching a child to be both sensitive to the feelings and needs of others and be separate from ungodly demands of compliance based on the needs and feelings of others is an exercise of wisdom that few grasp today. We tend to err on one side or the other. But it is exactly the balance we need to both maintain our liberty in this world while not making an idol of it. It’s what children need to know, so they can understand how to be independent, critical thinkers without being selfish anarchists and hyper-individualists.
Some might think forcing children to wear masks lies within that balance, but this is not the case given the context. Masks aren’t necessary to protect children — not in the case of COVID. Again, one death in a million doesn’t justify face coverings that generate false fear and trauma in children who should be learning to socialize properly, engage in a free educational environment, and enjoy the wonder of growing up while at the same time having a proper and healthy fear of what is REAL.
If we are going to follow the logic of forced COVID face coverings for children, we can’t deny the conclusion that they must be worn all the time, in every season, and forever. Again, more children die of the flu. You never know when a child might be exposed. If you’re wanting to save “just one,” then mandatory mask-wearing should be the state of existence from now on — for all time. The danger of deadly viruses is lurking around every corner.
If your thought is that children are protecting adults who are vulnerable, this can be handled by quarantining the very small number of vulnerable elderly who are at risk. This is a much wiser solution than masking children, separating them from their peers, creating emotional trauma, and generating a collective mindset that’s neither helpful nor healthy.
The best thing we can do for our children is to let them live their lives with all the risk that entails, educating them about the threats of life while still properly protecting them, empowering them to face death as part of life, and to teaching them to be sensitive to the feelings of others without becoming their slaves. Otherwise, you’re developing a fearful generation that does not depend on God to be their savior, but on man. This doesn’t bode well for them as they grow into adults or for our society whose liberty is dependent on free thinkers and strong, moral individuals who aren’t afraid but have a proper respect for life’s dangers.
Published with permission from Romans One.