Originally published by Brownstone Institute.
I had not originally intended to write a follow up article to detail the harms masks do to kids in a similar fashion to the prior article Facemasks Are Not an ‘Inconvenience’, Facemasks Are Not Trivial, because I thought that the subject had been addressed by plenty of other people, many of whom are credentialed psychologists or psychiatrists (with real expertise). However, I received a ton of feedback by a variety of people requesting an article about the harms of masking to children in the same style, so here goes.
I’m going to skip an intro, as pretty much everyone is well versed in the foundational morality that children are uniquely vulnerable and dependent upon adults, especially their parents, and that we therefore have a unique moral responsibility towards children. The (formerly?) panoptically shared intuitive repugnance of child abuse is a testament to this.
Some Basic Child Psychology
So here are a few basic bullet points about children, some of which might seem a bit counterintuitive or at least not the type of thing you would see or hear frequently:
- Kids, especially younger kids who are untainted by the messiness of life, are like little human lie detectors, and even though they usually lack the comprehension or sophistication to articulate it even to themselves, they absolutely pick up when something untoward is going on.
- Kids when confronted by a unavoidable contradiction or dissonance will typically resolve it by internalizing that they are to blame in some way.
- Kids assume that however they experience life (especially in their initial formative years when they first start to build a repertoire of detailed memories) is representative of how life is “supposed to be”.
- Kids are not resilient in the sense that they can shake off considerable emotional trauma or abuse
- Kids are very resilient in the sense that they can internalize emotional distress and trauma as “normal”, and suppress their natural instincts and feelings that impede functioning “normally” in this unnatural emotional state.
- Good parenting is critical and can blunt the negative impacts tremendously. Conversely, bad parenting can be just as powerful as a damaging force.
A few disclaimers first:
- This is listing things that generally tend to be true about kids, particularly in the context of mask mandates at schools, in varying degrees, not things that are 100% true for 100% of children in 100% of situations. In other words, you can feel something a little or a lot, or not at all – there’s a wide range, and it varies. Don’t read the definitive language as necessarily literal.
- This list is not comprehensive.
- Most of the things on this list are interconnected and can cause or amplify each other (and thus the categorization is definitely “flexible”).
- The short descriptions were written to provide a basic idea of some of the negative impact of the specific thing being highlighted. Different people experience the same things differently. The goal here is mostly to provide a platform or starting point to figure out the rest, like a small push to give some momentum in the right direction.
- I definitely missed lots of relevant material.
So without further ado, here is a partial list of some very significant emotional harms inflicted on children by facemasks:
Relevant from the prior article:
A Sense of Helplessness
Being at the mercy of the arbitrary and capricious whims of others makes you feel a sense of helplessness, which is extremely stressful and grueling, and can eventually break a person mentally and emotionally.
Deprives / Ruins Human Interactions
The quality and nature of social interactions is greatly reduced. Every interaction behind masks is fundamentally different. Interacting in this way can feel sad, despondent, isolating, cold, and/or cruel, among other things. This is uniquely devastating to children who in addition to the intrinsic emotional distress of this also have their social/intellectual/mental development compromised as a result.
The Stress of Difficulty Communicating
The frustration that comes from difficulty communicating is underappreciated, and tends to leave people feeling annoyed, frustrated and stressed. Children who due to their lack of knowledge and sophistication generally have a far greater need for functional and efficient communication are again uniquely harmed by this because it is especially frustrating to children if they feel that they cannot learn and are ‘stuck’, and they can easily decide that they have little or no hope of learning and just give up on trying more or less.
Over Time Changes Your Personality
Facemasks are a radical and unnatural impingement on normal physical, mental and emotional functioning. Over time, this can change your personality – such as making you less social, less outgoing, more suspicious, decreased tendency or desire to be kind and so on.
Turns Other People Into Abusive Tyrants
This is meant to capture the phenomenon of a subset of people who have turned into cruel and vicious individuals, and abuse people whom they have power over. Exhibit A: Teachers (some of them) and Karens who incoherently screech at the sight of an unmasked child anywhere on the horizon.
Feeling That Other People Matter While I Don’t
This is a distinct distress in addition to the lack of fairness – that “I don’t matter”; this is amplified considerably when “other people matter”. This is what people who are systematically disregarded tend to feel, and it is very painful. Definitely not the sort of lesson you want your kids getting.
The Distress of Constant Harassment
Mask mandates are a constant intrusion into people’s personal lives that leaves people feeling exasperated – “just leave me alone already” / “just let me live in peace”. It is a basic human need to not be constantly harassed by others. This is true for kids too, albeit in a bit of a different manner, since adults by definition do need to be more involved in kids lives. But the basic idea holds – kids will be very stressed from the “evil mask compliance enforcer teacher” constantly haranguing them to keep their masks on all the way.
Saps the Joy From a Variety of Activities
No elaboration needed.
Living In Perpetual Stress From Social Enforcers
Inevitably, people opposed to mask mandates will not be particularly zealous about following them to a “T”, whether it be letting the mask slide down your face, taking it off for a few minutes here and there, or just munching on a bag of peanuts for 3 hours. There is always a baseline stress of constantly having to be alert for the “mask police”, whether they are actual police or just really annoying Karens, or for kids teachers and administrators (and unfortunately sometimes parents) in addition to vile Karens who scream at kids like unhinged maniacs.
The school “mask police” – aka teachers/admins – are often extremely zealous – unhinged, really – a child who simply can’t adhere to the inhumane mask requirements getting dressed down in public is a common occurrence. Public humiliation can be a traumatic experience, especially for little children who can internalize very negative ideas about themselves as a result.
Mask mandates leave many people feeling emotionally abused. This is both from the masking being forced upon people despite all the mental and emotional distress it causes – in other words, abuse – and from the constant manipulation and cruelty that is characteristic of abusers that is part and parcel of the implementation and enforcement of mask mandates, an especially pronounced characteristic when it comes to kids.
The first thing to lay down is that masks are extremely uncomfortable to many people, especially to wear them for 7-8 hours or more each day. This is especially true of children, whose physical anatomy is still growing and more susceptible to being deformed by facemasks (specifically the ear cartilage). Additionally, children are far more likely to get irritation or infections from facemasks due to the inordinately unhygienic proclivities of children to basically be grimy dirt magnets. Everything laid out after this is incorporating the baseline physical discomfort or distress as a given.
There is also a substantial physical discomfort from the added difficulty or straining of routine breathing through facemasks, another harm uniquely pronounced in children, who have less muscle mass and lung capacity and so have to strain more above their natural baseline effort to breathe through masks that are often clogged up with bits of solid detritus and other random yicky stuff that somehow ends up aggregating on children’s facemasks. that further obstructs free airflow.
How a child perceives/relates to themselves
Sense/feeling that “my feelings don’t matter”
A child being repeatedly forced to do something that causes them significant distress leads to the child internalizing that “my feelings or suffering doesn’t matter”. It is hard to overstate how damaging this is psychologically.
Furthermore, the inevitable forced suppression of a whole range of their own feelings and significant discomfort from everything else on this list itself leads a child to conclude that their feelings don’t matter (or worse, are bad intrinsically), because the type of thing that is hidden away or suppressed at best doesn’t matter enough and at worst is an active “bad” thing that must be suppressed.
Sense/feeling that “I’m intrinsically something dangerous/“bad””
To a kid, the necessity for a mask in the first place is that otherwise he would be a danger to others “just by being there”. Kids – being more simplistic – will make the association that dangerous things = bad things, especially when helped along by abusive or unhinged teachers who explicitly tell (scream?) kids that they are bad. I don’t mean “bad” in the sense of acting in an evil or immoral fashion, that’s the next one; “bad” here is meant in the sense of something undesirable and/or with negative impact.
Internalizing a sense that “I am an intrinsic menace to everyone else” leads to a sense that “I am unworthy (ie unworthy of people’s kindness), a danger to the world, something plain bad.
Sense/feeling that “I’m evil”
A normal child will likely feel very strong urges to do things that mitigate their discomfort from the mask, like taking it off or pulling it below the nose or mouth, folding it up or down partially, etc. They will then be told by a teacher or other adult that they are acting very selfishly, or some such criticism the gist of which is that the child is doing something genuinely “wrong”/”bad” in a moral sense. They also see other kids being given the same criticism. So they will be left internalizing that their natural instincts & legitimate need to take mask off is a manifestation of evilness and/or selfishness.
Children then also become burdened by guilt should they pull their mask down and subsequently get covid and associate the two and wonder if their “moral lapse” got a friend or teacher sick with the ‘deadliest plague ever’ which is in a way the ultimate act of evil that one can do in todays society.
This is in addition to all of the emotional distresses also impelling kids to limit the mask wearing as much as they can get away with.
A child is liable to feel the internal dissonance of wondering just why they feel so against something that is so important to not hurting everyone, and internalize the “obvious” conclusion that the reason is they are intrinsically ‘incompatible’ with doing the really important good things is that their ‘self’ or essence is intrinsically incompatible, which in this case means ‘evil’.
Sense/feeling that “I’m defective”
For the same reasons just spelled out in the previous one, a child is also liable to internalize that the reason for the dissonance between how he feels, acts, and thinks about masks and the “great and clear necessity as a moral and practical matter” for masks is that they are “defective”, in a similar sense to a manufacturing defect in a product. A child can ‘identify’ this “defect” in multiple areas (and can be quite creative about it too). And yes, a child can think that he is simultaneously a bad thing, evil and defective.
Relate to experiences as something that is intrinsically not a “shared” type of thing
This is a bit tricky to articulate properly. A healthy person naturally ‘shares experiences’, or shares their lives, (in varying degrees obviously) with others. Masks (especially when accompanied by other isolation measures) severely inhibit the development of a child learning the fundamental camaraderie of how to ‘share their world’/be a part of someone else’s, without which they never evolve from living in their own personal universe
Lose (or never develop) a genuine sense that “I’m a human being” and not an animal
This might offend the atheists out there (sorry about that), but a person naturally has an innate sense of their transcendent nature [that derives from being made in the image of G-D]. The implementation of mask policies in schools necessarily involves dehumanizing the children to some extent (and is typically aggravated by zealot teachers or administrators who have been conditioned to look at the children as disease vectors first and human beings second, something which absolutely comes across to the kids). Rule of thumb: People treated like animals will eventually come to think of themselves as animals (albeit with a few intellectual advantages).
Life is innately a depressing, gloomy and dark existence
Children will eventually internalize an overarching sense of an all-encompassing gloominess or darkness that shades everything they experience and feel (this can be in varying degrees of intensity, encompassing-ness, and so on). This is very subtly manifest (and practically impossible to discern for someone who never experienced both a pervasive gloom and a pervasive brightness about life and so has the contrast to differentiate them as distinct things) but also exerts very powerful damaging effects. In extreme situations this can lead to losing the will to live altogether.
Trapped in a constant state of fear and anxiety
The constant mask-based fearmongering and threats and moral opprobrium has inflicted an unfathomable measure of fear and anxiousness upon children. Masks are the talisman of fear & anxiety (and everything else negative) of the covid pandemic. Anxiety disorders are something that people can relate to. But inflicted upon children, this is much more pernicious and debilitating, because they will internalize it as “how it is supposed to be/feel” and not realize that this is a messed up way of feeling all the time in the way that an adult is (usually) able to realize and understand that being anxiety ridden is not normal, and an adult also has the benefit of a contrast to a time when they were not suffering from perpetual anxiety.
General confusion from being unable to interpret conflicting messaging of life
On the one hand, they’re in school to learn. On the other hand, they have to wear masks that make learning very difficult if not impossible. On the one hand they are encouraged to make friends and socialize. On the other hand they are very strongly and forcefully prohibited from actually socializing. On the one hand if they test positive it’s not their fault. On the other hand if they get covid it’s because they were bad children who didn’t wear their masks the right way.
This sort of perpetual conflicting messaging will leave kids with a profound sense of confusion, and also doubting their own capacity to understand things in general, like their environment, other people, themselves, and everything inbetween.
The innumerable and ubiquitous stories of children being shamed and humiliated in public because of mask compliance issues are frankly an abomination to a civilized society.
Violation of the most elementary fairness
Kids are extremely sensitive to a lack of fairness (which is sometimes the reason that (especially little) kids throw tantrums that are enormously disproportionate to the factual grievance they are tantruming about – they feel that something about it wasn’t fair, which is what is really animating the tantrum). Masks for kids is intrinsically absurd, but masks for kids while teachers and adults don’t have to wear them??
Masks are a uniquely potent emotional trauma because of the masking policies association with the suffering inflicted by the masks, and covid more generally
The mask itself is inextricably linked emotionally for children to all of the abuse, stress, distress, suffering, and everything else negative about their lives because of covid. Thus, even being around facemasks without having to personally wear them is going to be inflicting a dull emotional trauma simply due to bringing up all the enormous suffering and negative emotions related to covid. Wearing them makes this a hundred times worse.
Emotional trauma that breaks children leaves permanent emotional scarring that will never fully heal
This doesn’t really need further elaboration, but it’s worth spelling out because it’s powerful in words:
Children that were so thoroughly abused and broken will always be missing a part of them that brings a sense of vibrancy, alive-ness, and energy to one’s personality and experiences that bled out from the emotional wounds of the constant horrific suffering and distress they were put through.
Warped Sense of Reality
People are an intrinsically negative entity and force within the world
The constant playing up and highlighting to an absurd degree of prominence everyone’s capacity to be a silent killer the moment the mask slips down ends up cementing through the repeated association of such negative characteristics a sense that people are just simply a bad thing to happen to the universe.
Trained to view things through a paradigm of “fear everything”
The constant inculcation of fear and fearmongering is potent conditioning to always view everything as fear-inducing. More succinctly, fear everything, and not just because it’s alleged claimed practical utility, but also as a religious sort of doctrine, that you do “just because”. This is so profoundly unhealthy that it defies words.
Default human condition is cold, loveless, uncaring and cruel
Children assume that however they experience life in their formative years is reflective of how “it’s supposed to be”. If their formative memories are of endless cold, distant, uncaring, loveless cruelty – as at least a very prominent and consistent part of their lives – then they will assume that is how life is supposed to be. (And then people wonder why kids have suicidal ideation…)
Unfettered, natural socializing is unnatural
For the same logic as the previous one. If children’s formative environment is that natural instinctive unfettered socializing is completely forbidden – and then they are prevented from experiencing or engaging in it – they will incorporate this also as “this is how it’s supposed to be”.
Won’t be able to appreciate [what we take for granted as] a person’s “humanity”
Deprived of seeing faces, and from normal social interactions, both of which are absolutely critical to convey the sense of the human-ness of other people, the children will be deprived to the same degree as they are deprived of the normal social cues and interactions through which they associate their sense of self as a human being with the humanity of other people.
Warped notion of what “love” is
This one is really mostly on the parents – if the parents inflict constant suffering and emotional abuse on their kids, then they will associate their instinctive knowledge/experience of their parents love for them with the abuse, and internalize that loving someone includes the abusive part as a standard feature of the love (future spouses, beware…). Literally, they will internalize something along the lines of “love is supposed to hurt (sometimes?)”. I’m being 100% serious. Kids can definitely get a very confused idea of how ‘love’ works and feels.
Profound cynicism about society and life
That will manifest probably at least in part as an assumption that “I’m always being lied to or manipulated”, and “no one ever has my best interests at heart”. Both of which are really damaging emotionally and psychologically.
Relating to Others
All of the following, when a person lacks them, they are also wounded emotionally, although it is not the sort of distress that manifests as a sharp conscious presence, rather it is a dull background loss of vibrancy and being
Dehumanization of others
Everyone seems to be aware of this one, so I’ll leave it without comment.
Desensitization to the feelings of others
This is being spurred on on two tracks:
The first is the disregard for their own feelings and suffering; the surest way to inculcate in someone that other’s suffering is unimportant is to demonstrate that their own suffering/feelings are worthless, from which they will generalize to everyone else too.
The second is that the children witness the systematic tormenting of their peers and other children around the country (thank you social media), which is a direct lesson to internalize that “yeah, not a big deal”.
What I’m referencing here specifically is the basic sensitivity to caring about the feelings of others – not the silly transient or delusional ones – that enables one’s sense of empathy.
People are unworthy of being treated with human dignity and empathy
Seeing how society treats them collectively, personally, their peers – this will definitely teach children that people aren’t deserving of being treated with basic decency. “Not deserving” is also internalizing in children a perverse sense of seeing people as lacking moral value (above and beyond the baseline dehumanization).
Desensitization to human suffering
Yup, this is important. A child forced to suffer will internalize among other wonderful life lessons that suffering isn’t such a terrible thing. And this is especially true when they see their peers also being made to suffer, since this also indicates to them that directly making others suffer is ok (children are far more liable to attribute defectiveness to themselves to explain why they are being made to suffer than they are to others).
Internalize that it’s ok to impose on others without regard for their welfare to make yourself feel better
Children realize that at the end of the day, non of their peers were severely ill or died from covid. They also can see right through that the teachers and adults want the children masked because it makes them feel safer. Which means that it’s acceptable to torment the kids so that you can feel safer and less stressed – a lesson that is very generalizable beyond just covid.
Breaks the natural instinct to be kind
Children absolutely need their basic instincts to be nurtured so that they ‘bloom’. The masks force a degree of isolation and lack of interpersonal connection that removes the primary outlet for a child to act on the instinct to do kind tings to others (this does not mean that kids are perfect little angels who don’t also bite, punch, kick, insult, mock, throw things at, and attack each other in all manner of creative ways). But without an outlet, the natural instinct withers and dies to some extent (or mostly…).
The lack of opportunities to be kind also means that kids don’t get to experience the positive emotions that come from relationships – built on the basis of the give and take between the two people to each other – as well as a genuine sense of fulfillment that comes from doing “good deeds” (not trying to be religious, but that is the idea), something critical to developing a personality that will tend to be civilized and good versus delinquent.
Erodes the natural moral intuition that suffering is something to always try and eliminate
Think of a kid (or anyone really) who while walking down the street sees a dog trapped underneath a piece of wood, and instinctively reacts to seeing the dog in distress to free the dog so as to end its distress. This is the instinct to alleviate suffering, borne by the innate intuition that suffering is a bad thing to exist.
Well, forcing kids to suffer hideously because of the masks – especially endlessly – eventually will break (or completely shatter) this instinctive intuition, as the kids will conclude from their own experience (and from their peers) that intense suffering is actually quite tolerable to witness and not only do nothing about but proactively cause it needlessly and unfairly. (Yes, kids – by now for sure – are for the most part probably aware that in much of the country masks are not required in schools [anymore].)
Conditioned to be non-thinking obedient cultists
Regardless of the theoretical merits that masks might have, the implementation of mask policies is always done in a fashion that quite clearly defies common sense. Children, even though they cannot articulate it, will discern that the adults are not acting logically or rationally but just “acting”. Eventually, the repeated ritual will completely strip down the innate instinct to be inquisitive – one of the most prominent (and frequently annoying) characteristics of kids – and grind it into cultish submission.
In a similar vein, kids have an intuitive astuteness and will pick up on the fact that the masks are being based on general deception, lying, and manipulation. This is despite that they will lack any capacity to even consciously recognize that they are perceiving this tension between being honest and how mask policies are a fundamental perversion of honesty. (Although at a local level, many if not most implementations were done so haphazardly and stupidly that the lack of transparent honesty was readily apparent from that alone.)
Never in human history has a society organized on the basis of the rights and welfare of its citizens inflicted such devastation upon its own people. The stain of the forced masking of children will forever live on as an unparalleled and unequivocal moral abomination. A society that mainstreams institutionalized child abuse is a society that does not deserve to exist.
Originally published by Brownstone Institute.
Author: Aaron Hertzberg
Aaron Hertzberg writes about all aspects of the pandemic response. His posts are published by Brownstone Institute and he also manages his own Substack.