Adolescents and young adults are paying a high price for COVID-19 prevention

If adults expect adolescents and young adults to act in ways we have not demonstrated and modeled for them, we are the stupid and selfish ones. Lawmakers are demanding enormous sacrifices from young Americans: their educations, their social lives, and sometimes their safety, as many of the 1 million abused and neglected American kids are now isolated at home with their abusers, with no plan to ensure their safety.

Young people have low odds of dying from Covid-19. As I write this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 25 Americans aged 24 or younger have died of Covid-19 in 2020, or 0.1% of the lives claimed by suicide and unintentional drug overdoses in this age group in 2018. (For comparison, 477 children and adolescents under age 17 in the United States died of influenza in the 2018-2019 flu season.)

No graduations. No sports. No time with friends. Lonely teenagers are more likely to become depressed, obese, and unhealthy adults. Social isolation in childhood is linked to poor health, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity in adulthood. Even in good times, about 8% of American teens try to kill themselves each year and about 70% suffer from loneliness. In 2020, these numbers will likely be higher.