The Hidden Pandemic: More Than 140,000 Children Are Orphans Due To The Crisis
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The Hidden Pandemic: More Than 140,000 Children Are Orphans Due To The Crisis

(IStock: Fizkes)

Ever since COVID-19 struck, multiple reports show that Black Americans have been trounced harder than other groups in key areas such as personal finances and living conditions.

Now, another disturbing trend is surfacing even as more people get vaccinated. A top discovery is that 1 out of every 310 Black children has lost a parent or grandparent who cared for them.

That finding is tied to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that estimates over 140,000 children in the United States have become orphans as the pandemic has taken away caregivers.

The findings show “orphanhood” as a hidden and ongoing secondary tragedy caused by COVID-19. Further, the report revealed children of racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 65% of those who lost a primary caregiver stemming from the crisis.

Here is the breakdown examining both primary and secondary caregivers. Compared to white children, American Indian/Alaska Native children were 4.5 times more likely to lose a parent or grandparent caregiver, Black children were 2.4 times more likely, and Hispanic children were nearly two times more likely.

And in the Southeast region, across Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, between 45% to 57% of children who lost a primary caregiver were Black.

The study disclosed that children’s lives are forever changed by losing a mother, father, or grandparent who provided them homes, basic needs, and care. As such, the losses are significant because they can potentially increase children’s exposure to life-changing issues, including mental health challenges, less schooling, and a higher risk of substance abuse, suicide, violence, and sexual abuse.

Susan Hillis, CDC researcher and the study’s lead author reflected on the report.

“All of us—especially our children—will feel the serious immediate and long-term impact of this problem for generations to come. Addressing the loss that these children have experienced—and continue to experience —must be one of our top priorities, and it must be woven into all aspects of our emergency response, both now and in the post-pandemic future.”


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