Purpose: This commentary article aims to highlight the main psychopathological consequences for children and adolescents caused by the lockdown; in particular the potential post-traumatic stress, the increase in domestic violence, the lack of support services for minors with disabilities or living in socio-economic difficulties. Some actions are also proposed to limit the risks of contagion among minors, while at the same time reducing the possible side effects related to restrictions.
Approach: A brief scientific literature review covering the period from 2005 to today has been carried out on PubMed, and the most relevant articles about our national grey literature were collected, including both articles concerning past pandemics, and the most recent studies on the COVID-19 pandemic, which were carried out in the past months.
Findings: The restrictions imposed by the government have caused significant disruptions of the environment where children grow, and they have confined in stressful domestic isolation, that may lead to an increase in maltreatment cases. The most vulnerable families are clearly those who already presented socio-economic difficulties, parental instability or inadequacy, or minors with a disability or chronic disabling diseases. Moreover, for children and adolescents with special educational needs, school closure implies the impossibility to access the resources they need, as “auxiliary teachers”.
In addition to physically protecting children from SARS-CoV-2 infection, it is essential to safeguard their emotional and psychological well-being as well, monitoring mental health status over the long term and creating dedicated diagnostic and rehabilitative pathways for all post-traumatic stress disorders.
Value: This is a relevant topic considering the state of emergency that we are globally facing.
Keywords: Covid-19; domestic violence; mental-health; school-closure; children