Over the past many months, we have learned to practice social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing. It's routine now. Our public health experts remind us often that these precautions remain our best daily protection against transmission of COVID-19 virus, particularly in the presence of unvaccinated individuals. For some families with kids, these standards present a burden, and some parents are stating that mask requirements for children in the classroom is a form of child abuse.
The COVID-19 virus and its variant forms, including the Delta variant, are serious health hazards. As we work to understand our risks and our options, child safety issues raise critical questions. Parents, caregivers and school staff are struggling to make the best decisions they can to keep kids healthy and protected while attending their classes, in person.
The need for protection is great. According to Dr. Yvonne Maldonado of Stanford University, the Delta variant has affected a “higher proportion of unvaccinated individuals who are becoming infected, including children, especially those under 12.” In California the second half of July of 2021 produced 13,757 cases of COVID infection in kids under 18 years of age — more than double the 4,835 cases reported during the first 2 weeks of the month.
These are the disturbing numbers that have forced school districts to implement standards they have not required in the past, including mask wearing in classrooms. The long term health of our kids makes it essential for schools to follow recommended safety protocols.
No parent wants to see their child treated in an abusive or neglectful manner. Consequently, parents have, for decades, provided their kids with mandated vaccines, seat belts and car seats in an effort to keep them healthy and safe with no concerns of abuse.
Child abuse and neglect are serious social injustices and their impact is devastating and life changing. By equating mask requirements to abuse we dilute the purpose of child protection laws and minimize actual child maltreatment. It diverts child protection resources from legitimate reports of suspected child abuse, thereby endangering children.
It is time for us to work cohesively, support our schools, our teachers, our families — and the youngest, most vulnerable among us. Let’s pull together and keep our kids and our schools safe.
The Greater Bay Area Child Abuse Prevention Council Coalition
Alameda County Child Abuse Prevention Council • Contra Costa Child Abuse Prevention Council • Marin County Child Abuse Prevention Council • Monterey County Child Abuse Prevention Council • Napa County Child Abuse Prevention Council (COPE Family Services) • Safe & Sound – San Francisco • San Mateo County Child Abuse Prevention Council • Santa Clara County Child Abuse Prevention Council • Solano County Child Abuse Prevention Council (Children’s Network) • Sonoma County Child Abuse Prevention Council (Child Parent Institute)
The Greater Bay Area Child Abuse Prevention Council Coalition MISSION: To provide leadership and support collaboration to the child abuse prevention community to promote culturally responsive, fair, respectful and effective services to end child abuse and neglect.