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“Biting and hitting, overwhelmed around large groups of other children”

“Evidence grows of lockdown harm to the young. But we act as if nothing happened”, writes Martha Gill in the Guardian.

I had been beginning to forget that the Guardian occasionally publishes good journalism that expresses opinions outside the comfort zone of its readers. Ms Gill’s previous work had not led me to expect this example of exactly that to come from her. She writes,

Then there are the very young. During the pandemic, parents spoke heartbreakingly of having to tell toddlers to stay away from others and not to hug their friends. In May, research published by the Education Endowment Foundation claimed that lockdown had affected England’s youngest children worst of all. Four- and five-year-olds were starting school far behind, biting and hitting, overwhelmed around large groups of other children and unable to settle and learn.

It came of necessity, perhaps, but we need to admit it. From 2020 to 2021, we conducted a mass experiment on the young. In recent history, there is perhaps just one comparison point: evacuation during the Second World War. Only it’s the opposite experiment. In 1939, children were sent away from their parents. In the past two years, they have been shut up with them.


Lockdown Britain had all the aesthetics of fictional big-state dystopias – the empty city squares, the mass-testing centres, the tape around park benches, the twitching curtains of neighbours who would love the chance to report you to the police. It was easy to see then that something bad and lasting might be happening to us all. But the unworldly, futuristic atmosphere disappeared as infections cleared up – and life has mostly snapped back to normal.

But we have to remember what we did. Keeping a generation of children away from their classrooms and friends felt unnatural and harmful, because it was unnatural and harmful. We should at least be collecting far more data on the matter than we seem to be doing. We have, after all, done the experiment. Now we must bother with the results.

13 comments to “Biting and hitting, overwhelmed around large groups of other children”

  • GregWA

    Since when do those running things “bother with the results” of their many experiments?

    Name once in the last 50 years when any policy, from any political party, has been examined for its effectiveness let alone what harm it caused.

  • Lee Moore

    This is not a belated conversion to common sense on lockdowns, this is just the pivot to “DOWN WITH HOMESCHOOLING !”

    For as we all know, the proper socialisation of children cannot even be attempted without their attendance at government run schools.

  • rhoda klapp

    There have always been kids who were not accustomed to crowds or classrooms. They learn in a few days. Some have older siblings, some are only children. Parental involvement varies too. That was always the case. Those who are pushing this narrative have an axe to grind and Lee Moore is probably right about what it is.

  • bobby b

    Lee Moore
    July 11, 2022 at 1:49 pm

    “For as we all know, the proper socialisation of children cannot even be attempted without their attendance at government run schools.”

    I get such a kick out of that. I run into lots of families who live full-time on the road (RV’s) with kids who are educated by the parents. I usually find the kids to be delightful. Just had dinner a few nights ago with one such family. 3 kids under 13, all of whom were fun, open, smart, well-read, engaging . . . They were in the area because mom wanted to show the kids the Mt. Rushmore area around the July 4th holiday to help tie in some of her American History lessons. Today they took off for the Great Lakes area – mom already has her lesson plan about the history of that area prepped and ready. Those kids have been many more places than I have.

    Public ed kids tend to be much more sullen, reserved, faddish, suspicious, and rather illiterate. Uneducated, mostly. Warehoused, in service to the National Education Association.

  • bobby b

    As an afterthought to the above: Homeschooled kids actually stayed in school during the Covid hysteria, while public ed kids occasionally watched their teachers trying to communicate with them over Zoom, for at least a year.

    All to protect obese union teachers, who were the only ones at any real risk.

  • Paul Marks

    The more time passes the more it is obvious that the international “lockdowns” were a blunder on an historic scale.

    If someone will not, after all the evidence, now admit that – they deserve no respect at all.

    And I fear that the worst effects of the Covid policies, to the young and to the rest of us, have yet to be seen.

  • Paul Marks writes:

    … international “lockdowns” were a blunder on an historic scale.

    You have more faith in leadership than I do.

    Noted elsewhere, the American Revolution was plotted with pubs and pamphlets.

  • I agree with bobby b (July 11, 2022 at 5:25 pm) and (July 11, 2022 at 5:40 pm) that intentionally-homeschooled kids typically outperform state school kids.

    In both home schooling and charter schooling, the kids are directly freed from the inadequacy and politicisation of state schools, and by selection indirectly freed from parents that are indifferent or worse – the requirement to take some action on their children’s education selects out those parents who don’t care.

    I commend the alertness of those who asked whether this is the prelude to a Grauniad psyop against homeschooling – it is wise to prevent them in all their doings. But the story itself, even in the Grauniad, may not be fiction. The greater happiness and ability of homeschool kids might yet be compatible with lockdowns not having done much for Kevin’s social skills.

  • lucklucky

    Public school exists to combate inequality by making everyone mediocre, their main function is to slowdown the smarter kids.

    This piece i suspect will be used as a foil by the Left as an excuse for its damaging education ideology. Every bad Leftist idea result will be masked by the “lockdown”.

  • Y. Knott

    “Name once in the last 50 years when any policy, from any political party, has been examined for its effectiveness let alone what harm it caused.”

    – In your country even moreso than mine, the ultimate example is gun control. The U.S. is near the top of the list for most violent & dangerous country in the world – but only in areas where stringent gun control has been imposed; in the many large areas where it hasn’t, it’s very nearly the safest because violent criminals don’t go there. Likewise from what I’ve read, the U.K. has suffered decades of steadily-mounting violence, specifically including gun violence, since the handgun ban – and not one government has noticed, or even muttered from the back-benches that the policy should be reversed, and NO “enlightened” government has EVER pondered the ample evidence that among an armed populace, criminals go elsewhere. And all those school shootings? – gun-free zones, every one; and the shooters virtually all on SSRI’s, and no father in the home.

    … the international “lockdowns” were a blunder on an historic scale.” Further to this, I read one account that mentioned 5-year-olds preferring to crawl down the hall to the washroom, rather than walk. I cast me’ unobstructed memory back to my own start in school, and the howls of derisive laughter we’d’ve lavished on any kid who’d done that back then. We really, REALLY need to do lockdowns – more of which are coming, one way or another – better.

  • Lee Moore

    “a Grauniad psyop against homeschooling”

    Unnecessary. There is currently a Bill going through Parliament which places homeschoolers directly under the control of the LEA. Homeschoolers will have to register and the LEA will have complete discretion to declare the homeschooing adequate or not. LEAs can issue School Attendance Orders for any reason they like, and there is no appeal to a court or tribunal. Only to the Secretary of State. There is no record of a Secretary of State ever upholding an appeal.

    I linked in another thread to the homeschooling charity Education Otherwise’s letter to the Education Minister. Amongst many scary things it quotes the following exchange :

    Minister : We are regularly meeting with the Association of Elective Home Education Professionals and
    home educators to address any issues across England. In our statutory guidance,we will also set out best practice within local authorities to reduce any inconsistencies in practice.

    Education Otherwise : Meetings with the Association of Elective Home Education Professionals (AEHEP)
    together with home education stakeholders commenced only within recent weeks. The DfE has met separately with the AEHEP to our knowledge, on numerous occasions taking its lead from their requirements

    AEHEP is a sockpuppet “homeschooling” group, that does not have a website, but appears to be composed of LEA employees “with an interest in homeschooling” – ie not composed of homeschoolers, but composed of the folk who would like to regulate homeschooling to death. The Ministry has been having lots of private meetings with AEHEP – ie government employees – to stitch up exactly what the LEA apparatchiks want, before beginning the formal process of consultation with actual homeschooling charities.

    For those who are interested, the UK currently has a Tory government.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Cummings was the main voice in the British government calling for Covid lockdowns – that does not mean that Prime Minister Johnson is blameless for giving in to his “adviser” Mr Cummings (most certainly Mr Johnson is NOT blameless), but it was Mr Cummings who really wanted the lockdowns – although, of course, he ripped up his own lockdown in his own case, driving hundreds of miles (whilst under the influence of Covid) and generally making an ass of himself. Yet it was Mr Cummings, not the medical officers Chris Whitty and Patrick Valance, who was the main pusher for lockdowns in the United Kingdom.

    But Mr Cummings did NOT invent the idea of lockdowns – he got the idea from international figures. Who specifically? Well Mr Cummings has told us (in passing) via television interviews – Mr William “Bill” Gates is where Mr Cummings got his ideas about Covid from.

    Mr Gates has no medical qualifications whatever – what he does have is lots of deeply sinister political ideas (which he got from his parents and other influences).

    I hope that Mr Cummings, i.e. Mr Gates, does not pick the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

  • Paul Marks

    Lee Moore – what you describe is rather like the California approach to Home Schooling, essentially persecution (like the California approach to every trade and profession – license-licensee-license, cartel-cartel-cartel).

    It much the same with every policy – ministers get told what the “correct” policy is, by officials and “experts”. Only later, when it is much too late, do other people get to see the (awful) policy. And it is much the same in most countries.

    For example the Prime Minister of the Netherlands did not just wake up one morning and say “I know, I will destroy Dutch farming!” – he was TOLD what to do, at an international level.

    Prime Minister Johnson in the United Kingdom did not write the (insane) Covid lockdown regulations – he did not even want a lockdown. Mr Johnson was TOLD what to do.

    “But politicians could say NO”.

    Yes they could – but they would need nerves of tempered steel.