Children should not bear more of the brunt of Covid restrictions, ombudsman warns

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Children Should Not Bear More Of The Brunt Of Covid Restrictions, Ombudsman Warns Children Should Not Bear More Of The Brunt Of Covid Restrictions, Ombudsman Warns
It comes as parents will be asked to reduce their children’s playdates and other activities, under proposals to be considered by Cabinet. Photo: File image.
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Vivienne Clarke

Children should not bear more of the brunt of Covid-19 restrictions, the ombudsman for children has warned.

It comes as parents will be asked to reduce their children’s playdates and other activities, under proposals to be considered by Cabinet on Tuesday.

Children’s ombudsman Niall Muldoon welcomed the fact that new restrictions for children were recommendations and not dictats.

There was a need to ensure that reactions were proportionate and time sensitive, he said, and there should be a review in two weeks to see if the new measures were working.

There could not be a blanket situation where children were bearing more of the responsibility, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

'Extremely stressful'

Dr Muldoon said that it had been an extremely stressful 18 months for children and it was important to find the right balance between allowing them some socialisation, which was good for their development, and keeping schools open.

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This was the second Christmas where children were being asked to refrain from meeting up with friends and family, he said, and that was developmentally important for children.

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At the same time, it was hugely important that schools remain open. “We want to keep a strong routine for children,” he added.

Children needed to be supported, he said. Restrictions can be damaging to families, especially vulnerable families. Lockdown scenarios had made life very difficult for some families.

Dr Muldoon also called for greater clarity on guidelines about mask wearing in schools and to ensure that children were not ostracised. He did not want a situation to arise where teachers or shopkeepers were put in a difficult situation when a parent decided not to give their child a mask to wear.

It was his understanding that most people were prepared to move in this direction.

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