(The Center Square) – A new survey shows half of Wisconsin school kids say they’re anxious, and a third say they’re depressed.
The state’s Department of Public Instruction released the Youth Risk Behavior Survey results Tuesday.
“More than half of all students surveyed (52.2%) self-reported ‘significant problems with anxiety’,” the department said in a statement. “Over one-third of all Wisconsin students surveyed (33.7%) reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for more than two weeks in a row.”
That number is 5% higher than the last time the state asked students about their feelings.
The survey also said 18% of all students surveyed seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, the highest rate since 2003.
DPI focused on the breakout numbers for LGBTQ+ students, and used the survey results to push for more money from lawmakers.
But Will Flanders with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty pointed out DPI didn’t say anything about how keeping kids out of school during the coronavirus likely helped drive those numbers.
“It seems quite obvious that keeping students out of school and isolated for nearly two years in some districts was going to have negative effects on the mental health of students,” Flanders told The Center Square. “This isn’t just conjecture – there is a growing body of psychological research that finds this to be the case.”
Kids across Wisconsin missed at least one semester of school in the spring of 2020. Some schools, most notably Milwaukee and Madison public schools, kept kids learning from home for much of the 2020-21 school year as well. Those same districts kept kids masked-up and socially distanced until early this school year.
“Given what we have known for a long time about the relative lack of danger to kids from COVID-19, this is just one more piece of evidence that the public school establishment put their interests ahead of a generation of kids,” Flanders added. “While DPI seems especially concerned about LGBTQ kids here, this seems to me to be a deflection from the core issues – which are universal.”