Report: COVID-19 has traumatized America’s teenagers and they need help to cope

Teen working on school work from home. Credit: Mayur Kakade/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced closure of public schools and imposition of distance learning, has traumatized American teenagers and caused them to fear for their health and family finances, according to a survey released this week.

Among the 3,300 teenagers who participated in the Center for Promise’s online survey, almost 80 percent reported participating fewer hours of instruction than they would in a standard classroom. Overall, students felt less connected to classmates, adults, and schools.

More than half were “more concerned than usual” about their overall health; 40 percent had increased concerns about family finances; and 30 percent worried more about meeting their basic needs.

This report also notes that 40 percent of students felt they’d received inadequate help from adults in coping.

“These survey findings, in the context of current events, show that young people are experiencing collective trauma fueled by changes in their immediate circumstances combined with ongoing uncertainty,” the report says.

The center is an arm of the America’s Promise Alliance, a partnership of “nonprofits, businesses, community and civic leaders, educators, citizens,” and works to “create the condition for success for all young people,” according to its website.

“These findings suggest that students are experiencing a collective trauma, and that they and their families would benefit from immediate and ongoing support,” the report concludes.

Florida plans to reopen its public schools in the fall.

The center surveyed students aged 13 to 19 in late April and early May, representing an even spread across grades nine through 12. The gender break-down was 49 percent female, 50 percent male, and 1 percent non-binary students.

It asked about their “social, emotional, and academic experiences across both school and out-of-school-time learning settings, including a set of questions related to their specific experiences since being out of school as a result of COVID-19,” the report says.

The report recommends that student social and emotional wellbeing needs to be more of a priority, including attention to their emotional support focused on how to handle trauma.

Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.