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Worst Opinion of the Week: Giving Kids PPE Is 'Child Abuse'

Government plans for schools to reopen in England are met with concern from the education unions, but let's talk about how children wearing masks is scary instead!
by NEO
15 May 2020, 12:25pm
Child wearing medical face mask.
Photo: Denis Moskvinov / Alamy Stock Photo
Welcome to The Worst Take of the Week – a column in which NEO, AKA @MULLET_FAN_NEO, crowns the wildest hot take of the week.

Story: The Department of Education has announced plans for children to begin a phased return to schools in England by the 1st of June, but education unions have argued that schools should only reopen "when it is safe to do so".
Reasonable take: Seems fair.
Brain-rot: "Somebody call Esther Rantzen, my child is going to be forced into wearing PPE!" – Allison Pearson.

As most of us suffer a disorientating cabin fever, the lockdown lifestyles of British columnists seem to flitter between hating the presence of their families and bemoaning that the working classes aren't risking their lives to wash their husband's dirty socks or "educate their children" (code for "get these fucking kids out of my workspace").

Take the Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson, who spent this week posting sham-science that children "are not affected by Covid", arguing that unions should feel "shame" for wanting safety measures implemented and stating that it is "child abuse to make little kids wear masks".

Is it really "child abuse" to gently explain that the face masks children have inevitably encountered months into a pandemic are merely there to protect them? It appears so!

Playing devil's advocate, though: a reasonable person might argue that the first section of society allowed to congregate freely should protect themselves and others. It's also probably desirable to have a better understanding of how children can spread the virus before deciding to unleash them back into the wilderness.

When Pearson's statements were challenged by someone claiming to be a consultant paediatrician, who had personally treated COVID cases in children, Pearson responded with the assertion that diagnoses in children are "vanishingly rare" – as if it was a gotcha moment and children accounting for "between 1 percent and 5 percent" of cases means they are "immune" and don't "transmit" the virus.

Not to be a pedantic cunt of linguistics or maths or whatever the fuck, but you would hope that an established journalist at a national newspaper could grasp the astonishingly large difference between something being "rare" and something being "scientifically impossible". Shiny Charizards are "rare". Our hopes of going to be pub this summer are "rare". But my god, I'd happily be a dead corpse in the ground if those were an "impossibility".

It really is soul-sapping that we're living in a hellscape where tin-foil hat Reddit posts are held up as indisputable fact by prominent voices within the mainstream media. At this rate, we're not far off a _Chernobyl_-style miniseries about the UK's handling of the pandemic.

“Not many children are dying. Reopen the schools!”

“But comrade, we don’t know if they will spread the…”

“I said reopen the schools, not many children are dying. The stats are clear, comrade!”

Sometimes you simply long for Britain to have a normal one, but it feels like not even a pandemic can straighten out our role-reversal island, where journalists are the ones shouting out inflammatory misinformation and the public are the ones left to separate fact from fiction.

Of course, it was no surprise to then see the tabloids continue their assault on teachers' unions on Friday, as The Daily Mail's front page read: "Magnificent staff across the nation are desperate to help millions of children get back to the classroom – but militant unions are standing in their way. To them, the Mail implores… LET OUR TEACHERS BE HEROES."

There's no doubt that "Heroes" is fast becoming a double entendre for "a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities" and "an inadequately protected worker in immediate danger of dying". For a country that has exhibited such excessive displays of appreciation to war veterans and NHS carers, it's perplexing that we can be so blasé when it comes to protecting either.

And so, the eternal battle between the teachers unions and… uhhh… the teachers the unions represent rages on. Meanwhile, it seems that being British right now means enduring doublespeak, clapping for frontline workers and then decrying their requests for the protections that would help prevent them from dying on the job.

@MULLET_FAN_NEO