Schools need support to deal with pupils’ trauma - Readers' Letters

As many Scottish schools return this week, we share the concern of a number of organisations that children may experience quite a big trauma, with anxiety already growing over the impact of the Covid pandemic on child mental health.

Pupils return to school this week with the difficulties caused by the pandemic still having repercussions for mental health
Pupils return to school this week with the difficulties caused by the pandemic still having repercussions for mental health

With increases in depression, anxiety, eating disorders and self-harm, it is clear that the pandemic has had a major impact on many of our children, and a number of pupils will view the return to schools with further alarm.

This is only to be expected after 18 months of disrupted schooling and will affect older pupils more profoundly.

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In the worst case scenario we may see an increase in those more vulnerable children being admitted to hospital in a state of crisis, while less vulnerable ones experience increasingly depressive episodes and symptoms of eating disorders.

Schools have a crucial role to play in supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing. If we are to give our children and young people the best possible start in life, the Scottish Government must give our fantastic teachers, educational professionals and support services the vital resources they need in order to deliver this.

Kenny Graham, Lynn Bell, Stephen McGhee & Niall Kelly, The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, Edinburgh

Labour’s role

Peter Ovenstone's view the irrelevance of the Labour Party in Scotland , is interesting, but lacks perspective (Letters, 16 August).

He is a strong advocate of Scottish independence, but fails to make any realistic case.

He hails from the East Neuk, but conveniently forgets the impact of EU regulations on the fishing industry, and the consequent disappearance of boat builders to the industry in his native St Monans, and other areas, while the SNP wants Scotland to join this too-large-to-be-managed federation

I also attended the Waid Academy, and I recall in my year, a member of the St Monans Ovenstone family, (John I think, but "Ovy" to everyone) but unlike Peter, have no ambition to become a member of any political party and meddle in the morass that Scottish politics has become under the SNP.

There remains a place for Labour in Scotland, so long as it can distance itself from rampaging trades union leaders who caused such economic damage to the UK, and were ultimately responsible for the closures of the UK car manufacturing industry, coal mining and ship-building on the Clyde.

The world has moved on from those days, and the Labour Party has a role in preventing the sell-off of UK manufacturing and engineering assets to multinationals and financial speculators.

But independence for Scotland is not the answer. The answer is far greater cross-party co-operation in what is a dangerous and highly competitive world.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Records scandal

Following your revelation that National Records of Scotland had delayed the publication of data on Covid-related deaths in Scottish care homes by more than three months and crucially past May's Scottish Parliament election (Scotsman, 7 July 2021), I had expected a prompt and robust statement from NRS explaining this delay and thereby restoring public confidence in their independence from political interference. Normal practice is to allow ministers up to five business days prior to the release of such data, not 15 weeks.

The lack of such a public statement is not a trivial matter: the reliability of NRS demographic data and their timely release are at the heart of nearly all decisions regrading the allocation of pubic funds and central to fair and transparent public policy.

If NRS has allowed undue political influence to delay the publication of care home data, there must be consequences. If there is an acceptable explanation, it must be provided publicly and scrutinised independently.

Harald Tobermann, Edinburgh

Green generation

William Sutcliffe gives only one aspect of green policies without any reference to the impact on future living standards for the youth of Scotland (“Talkin’ about the green generation”, Scotsman Magazine, 14 August).

For example, the young may well favour an extension of working from home as a green option but that has serious consequences for ScotRail. The organisation has seen passenger numbers plummet and the loss of revenue has required Holyrood to pump in additional subsidies to balance their books. That means that, after nationalisation, the SNP/Green alliance must decide whether to maintain the current service by providing cash from the NHS and education budgets or trim ScotRail to match passenger demand. The youth of Scotland should note the job losses from the second option.

When only the rich can afford electric vehicles then there will be travel problems in getting to Inverness hospital from Bettyhill, Glasgow hospitals from Campbeltown or Aberdeen hospital from Fraserburgh. It should be noted by the young that there are no rail connections from Inverness to the ferry port at Ullapool, from Glasgow to Kenacraig or from Dumfries to Stranraer.

Replacing gas (4p/unit ) with renewable electricity (18p/unit ) will send energy bills soaring and increase the numbers of youngsters living in fuel poverty.

Any current STEM pupil can assess the impact on the electricity grid when there is only sufficient energy to produce three per cent of demand from wind farms. No economy can generate the GDP to maintain public sevices without a constant supply of affordable energy. When the £150 billion cost of a Green Revolution is 150 per cent of GDP then going green means the lights going out.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Cranks in power

Whether you are one of the 100,000 dependant on the oil and gas industry for your living or not, the imminent coalition of the SNP and the Greens should have you shaking in your shoes.

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Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of politics in Scotland knows that the Greens, supported electorally by a miniscule number, would like to see our offshore industry abandoned, the sooner the better. The SNP has to go along with them in order to keep their dreams of breaking up the UK intact and their own zealots on board. The last consideration in all this posturing of course is the safety of energy supplies to the people of this country.

This situation brings to mind the warnings issued at the beginning of the devolution agreement and the worst case scenarios pointed out by critics at the time. This is as bad an example as could be got. A tiny, numerically insignificant group of cranks, they said, could hold the balance of power and exert pressure and force extremist, hara-kiri policies and that is exactly what is happening.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Corporate courts

The Met Office reports that “2020 was recorded as the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest year on record…floods, drought, extreme temperatures is the new normal”. Many parts of the world now do not have a habitable climate.

We keep hearing governments acknowledging this and telling us of their commitment to change, and we will hear a lot about this at the upcoming COP 26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November.

But the UK Government, in their pursuit of trade deals with countries around the world after Brexit, will undoubtedly have in their deals, in the small print, clauses relating to corporate courts, which give fossil fuel companies the power to sue governments for taking action on the climate emergency.

For example, energy company RWE is suing the Netherlands over the phase-out of coal fired power stations, while British company, Rockhopper Exploration, is suing Italy over a ban on offshore oil drilling close to the coast.

It sounds ridiculous that companies can sue countries for taking measures to try to save the world, but, in the world of business today, such things can and do happen, and, with the UK Government keen to make deals to compensate for the loss of trade with the EU, they may be so desperate that they will accept whatever it takes, or, on past form, be so incompetent that they will not even notice. Yet another downside of Brexit.

Les Mackay, Dundee

Age of maturity

Under Scots Law a child under 12 is not deemed to have the intellectual maturity to be fully responsible for its actions.

However, last week the Minister for Education published a set of guidelines on gender policy in primary schools under which little five-year-old Tommy could be allowed by his school to decide that he would rather be Mary, be addressed as such, and use the girls' toilets instead of the boys'. More worryingly, the school could go along with this decision without consulting Tommy's parents.

The minister is at pains to insist that the guidelines are not prescriptive, but this hardly mitigates the lack of thought, and possibly the illegality, involved in issuing them in the first place.

I had thought the Government had plumbed the depths of stupidity last year with John Swinney's universally derided Named Persons Bill. Perhaps I was mistaken. Don't we, as an electorate, have the right to expect better from those who are supposedly governing us?.

D Mason, Penicuik, Midlothian

Picking genders

If the SNP had succeeded in their dreadful “named person” plan, would such persons have been permitted any more influence over the SNP’s equally appalling plan to give infants of four years old the “right” to change their gender (and presumably to change back again aged five, and thereafter ad infinitum) than they propose to allow the infants’ biological or adoptive parents?

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

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