This article appeared in the October 25, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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What would the US look like if it put children first?

Will O'Hare (left) and Courtesy of PublicAffairs (right)
"The Stolen Year," by former NPR education reporter Anya Kamenetz, examines the effects of the pandemic on children and offers suggestions for how to prioritize their well-being moving forward.
Kim Campbell
Culture & Education Editor

Is American society good at making decisions that support children?  

Not exactly, but it could pivot, argues Anya Kamenetz in her recent book, “The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now.”  

In an interview, she says that adults did the stealing in her title – and they need to be the ones to find a way forward on issues affecting young people such as poverty, mental health, and learning loss (more national assessment results this week revealed historic drops in math scores).

“As a society we need to be really clear-eyed about the collective impact of our choices on our children,” she says. “I want to raise the alarm, and say this didn’t have to happen this way and this needs to be redressed.”

She observed what others in the United States did: that dog parks and bars were open, but not playgrounds and schools.

Child-centered public policy, suggests the former NPR education reporter, looks different. It includes thinking long term about issues, such as how to deal with climate change (an area she is focusing on more these days), and building systems that support caregivers.

Even now, though, children aren’t “doomed,” she offers. Moving forward starts with seeing the potential in them.

“When you talk to children about their experiences, it’s never helpful to dwell on what they lost,” she says. “It’s helpful to put their losses in context and focus on what we have a locus of control over, which is recovering.”

This article appeared in the October 25, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 10/25 edition
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