U.K. Government Urged to Conduct Separate COVID Inquiry for Children

A campaign group has called on the UK government to order a separate inquiry into the impact of the CCP virus restrictions on children and young people.

Molly Kingsley, co-founder of Us for Them—a group of parents campaigning against the CCP virus lockdowns and other restriction measures during the pandemic—said children have been “more disproportionately burdened” than any other group.

The government’s recently launched overall “lessons learned” inquiry into the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic also came under criticism for lacking focus on children.

In the draft terms of reference of the UK’s COVID-19 Inquiry published on March 15, the Cabinet Office listed a wide range of areas the inquiry is expected to examine in terms of government responses to the pandemic, including preparedness and resilience, decision-making process, the use of lockdowns and other “non-pharmaceutical” interventions, government spending, and the “restrictions on attendance at places of education.”

However, campaigners have lambasted the inquiry for not featuring children more prominently, and not including the words “child” or “children” in its terms of reference.

Anne Longfield, chair of the Commission on Young Lives and former Children’s Commissioner for England, told The Telegraph that it’s a “shocking oversight.”

“It does completely feel that the people who were at the forefront of both making the sacrifice but also suffering because of the pandemic have just been airbrushed out of memory with it,” she said, adding that children’s mental health also “plummeted as a result of the pandemic.”

“The fact that there are over 100,000 children that haven’t returned to school yet and some of those suffering such chronic anxiety that they barely dare go and out of the home and talk to anyone that’s not their own parents is one that we need to not only feel responsible for, but also ensure that it never happens again, which is what an inquiry should be around,” Longfield told the publication.

According to analysis of NHS data by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, some 424,963 children were in contact with mental health services in December 2021 compared with 367,403 in December 2019.

The interim report (pdf) of an inquiry launched in January into school attendance published earlier this month estimated that 1,782,000 pupils were persistently absent (missing over 10 percent of sessions) from school and 124,000 pupils were severely absent (missing over 50 percent of sessions) in the autumn 2021 term.

Also speaking to The Telegraph, Kingsley said not specifically mentioning children in the inquiry’s terms of reference was “insulting” and “indicative of the very serious structural failing when it comes to children.”

“There’s no group that has been more disproportionately burdened than children and the impact of the pandemic response will live with children for the rest of their lives, so it’s absolutely critical that they are included in the inquiry,” she said.

Kingsley said Us for Them is now calling for children to have their own inquiry into the public health measures, which she said “had a very damaging impact on a healthy paediatric population” and were “actually the antithesis of public health.”

The government responded to the campaigners’ call by saying children are already in the scope of the overall COVID inquiry.

“Following the publication of the draft covid inquiry terms of reference, there is now an ongoing period of public engagement and consultation being led by Baroness Hallett to inform further changes to the terms before they are finalised,” a government spokesperson said.

“The experience of children is in [the] scope of the inquiry.”

On Friday, Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi told the Express he believe it was “a mistake” to close school during the pandemic.

“Keeping kids in education must always be a priority and going forward it is absolutely a priority both from the prime minister and me,” he said.

Reporting from The Epoch Times.