In the News June 14
Demands for Reparations Increase in the United States
Pandemic and Prison Orphans
The Lancet medical journal reports over 200,000 children in the United States have lost a parent or caregiver due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Worldwide, the pandemic has orphaned 5.2 million children. The estimates are found in Imperial College London’s orphanhood calculator.
Globally, the study suggests that two out of three children orphaned from COVID-19 are adolescents aged 10 to 17 years. Additionally, in line with evidence that COVID-19 deaths disproportionally affect men, three out of four children worldwide who experienced the death of a parent during the pandemic lost their fathers.
The loss of fathers in the U.S. is compounded with the additional pandemic of mass incarceration where through violence of the social conditions, around 2,000,000 imprisoned men have been ripped from their families leaving thousands of children either with single parents or alone.
The Lancet reports that “pandemic (and prison) orphans” in the U.S. are at increased risk of alcohol and substance abuse, dropping out of school, descending into poverty and committing suicide. Overall, children who experience the loss of a caregiver have an increased risk of poverty, exploitation and sexual violence or abuse, HIV infection, mental health challenges and severe distress, and in some contexts, increased vulnerability to gang involvement and violent extremism.
Dr Juliette Unwin from Imperial College London says, “Sadly, as high as our estimates of orphanhood and caregiver deaths are, they are likely to be underestimates, and we expect these numbers to grow as more global data on COVID-19 deaths becomes available. For example, WHO estimates accurate data for COVID-19 deaths in Africa are limited, and the real estimates are likely to be 10 times higher than what is currently being reported. Consequently, these under-reported deaths mean that COVID-19-related orphanhood and caregiver loss is also drastically underestimated. Real-time updated data suggests the true totals reached 6.7 million children as of January 2022.” Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were an estimated 140 million orphaned children worldwide.
Henrietta Fore, the former executive director of UNICEF says in a July 2021 statement: “Deprived of parental care, [orphans] can endure physical, psychological, emotional and social harm, with consequences that last a lifetime. These children are also more likely to experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.”
Imperialist governments pay little to no attention to this social problem. They are mostly concerned with the problems of the rich who pay the political piper. The imperialist ideology, outlook and political line of “fending for yourself” attempts to defend and even ignore the current social conditions. They refuse to look at the world as it exists and argue without reason that conditions have not changed from the old world of rural petty production where most children were born to extended families, whereas today children are born to a socialized society.
The imperialist outlook insists responsibility for children still rests with individual families even though their education, health and recreation are completely socialized. If problems occur with the loss of caregivers, the imperialists say responsibility shifts mainly to charity and government policy objectives to soften the effects of poverty. They insist new social forms of caregiving do not have to be developed.
Working people must forcefully challenge and reject the imperialist outlook and political line rooted in the past. The modern forces of production have turned the old world upside down but the old ideology and political power rooted in private ownership of the means of production refuses to recognize and accept the new socialized conditions. The historical conditions demand the working class organize to resolve the contradiction between the Old and the New.
Families in the modern urban world of industrial mass production are no longer “extended” or uniquely capable of looking after all family members from birth to passing away and certainly not the needs of children for education, health, recreation and preparation for work and adulthood or the special care of the elderly. In fact, many families are scattered throughout a country or even the world. This can be seen most sharply with the refugee crisis, as families and individuals flee imperialist violence.
Pandemic and prison orphans left to fend for themselves are yet another glaring social condition that demands a change to the New. No more pandering to the rich! Organize to bring in the New!
TML Daily, posted June 14, 2022.