Covid: Scottish government must listen to heartfelt plea from nation's young generation – Scotsman comment

When the Covid crisis began, the focus was on protecting those most vulnerable to the disease, namely the older generation.

Scottish school pupils have faced nearly a year-and-a-half of disruption to their education (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA)

Catastrophic decisions to transfer elderly patients from hospitals into care homes without first testing them for the virus – and, unbelievably, dozens of people who had actually tested positive – show this focus did not always produce the best results. However, the intention was there.

As the crisis continued over weeks and then months, it became increasingly clear that another group, the young generation, were experiencing very real problems despite being at far less risk from Covid itself.

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Now a group of children and teenagers has issued a plea to the Scottish government to let them “feel young again”. It is one that many people, of whatever age, will have great sympathy for. Most of us will know a young person who has struggled to cope with the enforced isolation of lockdown, the chaos of cancelled exams replaced by teacher assessments, and the difficulty in finding that all-important first job, among other serious challenges.

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A report by 25 “young consultants” aged 11 to 17, calls for the creation of school-based discussion groups so that their generation can have a direct influence on the government’s plans; changes to the assessment system; and greater support for teachers to ensure their workloads are not overwhelming.

One young consultant, Aimee, 17, from Denny, Falkirk, urged the Scottish government “to recognise that young people are crying out for help”. “We need more mental health support, we want our exams and our schooling to be sorted. We need them to be clear on restrictions and we’ve been asking for that for so long,” she said.

Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, said the pandemic had created “a human rights crisis”, adding that “children and young people have sacrificed so much to comply with the measures to protect public health, including limitations to their rights to education, health, socialisation and freedom of assembly, all of which has had a profound effect on them”.

The Scottish government needs to take this seriously, recognise the problems, and find ways to help a generation the vast majority of whom can hold their heads up high for their part in the fight against Covid.

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