“When we think about the mortality of covid-19, much of the discussion focuses on the fact that older adults are high-risk populations. About 81% of deaths have been in the age group of 65 and older, according to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, ”says Ashton Verdery, social data analyst at the Department of Sociology and Criminology at State University from Pennsylvania, in the United States, and one of the study’s authors. However, the analyst points out that the remaining deaths occur in people under the age of 65, with 15% of them being in people in their 50s and early 60s, and 3% in the 40s. “In these younger groups, substantial numbers of people have children.”
Through the statistical model, it was also found that the loss of one parent was “more serious” in the families of the black population, referred to in a statement about work. The team estimates that 20% of children who lost a parent were black, with only 14% of children in the United States being black. It has also been estimated that the deaths of parents due to covid-19 will increase cases of child mourning in the country from 18% (which happens in a normal year) to 20%. The investigation covered all states in the USA.
Ashton Verdery says that, for now, he doesn’t have data for other countries, including Portugal. “But we are working so that we can accompany other countries”, he told PÚBLICO.
In view of the results of their investigation, the team warns that children who lose their parents are at a greater risk of having a range of problems, such as prolonged and traumatic grief, depression, low education, economic insecurity, accidental death and suicide. Therefore, it is suggested that these children and adolescents should have immediate help and that this should come from a national effort.
For now, Ashton Verdery advises that these children be accompanied by psychologists and counselors from their schools and communities. In the medium term, they must have support from the social security services. “Investigations show that only half of eligible children are using these programs under normal circumstances, but that those that are doing much better,” says the researcher. In this way, it suggests that the eligibility of these programs be extended.
In addition to all this, in the statement, the team points out that during the pandemic, children who have to mourn go through great challenges: they are more socially isolated or the more limited economic resources may make them have access to certain sources of support. Essential help from teachers may also be lacking: “Teachers are a vital resource in terms of identifying and helping children at risk. It becomes more difficult to do this if they are working remotely or overloaded ”, underlines Ashton Verdery.
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