Aldermen say youth need more perspective as soon as possible
Aldermen are seriously concerned about the well-being of the youth during the lockdown. Simply re-opening schools will not be enough to fix the damage that was inflicted on children’s education and well-being since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the Youth Aldermen of various municipalities said to newspaper Trouw.
The aldermen of 20 small and middle-sized municipalities in the Netherlands including, Groningen, Heerenveen, Zutphen and Harlingen appealed to the government to “catch up on losses” within four months. According to Barendrecht alderwoman Reshma Roopram, it is possible to recuperate from the blows dealt by the pandemic through a collaboration of municipalities, social workers and the youth themselves.
“It is predominantly about offering them perspective. I hear from young people that they worry about not being able to find an internship or that they are stressed about bad grades that count despite online classes not going well”, Roopram said to the newspaper. “Maybe it is time for more flexibility.”
She believes that mandatory rules of the past such as having to fulfill an internship and fixed summer vacation days have to be altered to accommodate the situation.
Hans Spigt, president of the Youth Care Netherlands, shares Roopram’s concerns. Especially the second lockdown was a blow to young people's well-being, he said to the newspaper. Some children are stuck in a difficult home situation and have to battle feelings of anxiety, depression and insecurity, he said.
The sooner steps are taken the better. Concrete plans of action such as opening up empty cafes to provide activities for children would be one simple way in which the youth could already being helped, Spigt said. It is also important to look towards long-term “exit-strategies” that extend beyond the simple re-opening of schools.
“What is going to happen after the crisis?” is the big question the aldermen ask themselves. “How do we handle the large setback some children face? And how do we organize after-care for children who suffered domestic violence and that struggle with mental health problems?”