In a four-minute video posted on social media, two anonymous teenagers from Melbourne talked freely about how their lives have been negatively transformed by the city's COVID-19 lockdowns over the past two years.
The two teenagers said the lockdown imposed upon Melbourne has left them with little motivation to continue living. They have also seen what this lockdown has done to their friends. (Related: COVID-19 lockdowns causing deterioration of children's mental health.)
"I have lots of friends who – I've seen it – turned to drugs and alcohol over lockdown. I've really seen it changing people," said one of the teens.
"So, when we were at school, two or so years ago that's what they would do for the day. They would go to school, they'd go home, they'd sleep and they'd go to school the next day. When they're at home all day, it's not healthy, you know. You'd get your two hours of exercise, you'd go see a friend and it's affecting people."
"I need to have a social life," said the other teen, who was dismayed at the fact that he has missed out on so much of his life during the lockdowns. "I've never been a person who gets depressed much. But you know, recently, I've started to feel the effects of the lockdown. I've started to feel depressed. We shouldn't feel like that. We're just kids."
"We're people," he continued. "We're not meant to be locked down for nearly 300 days now within two years. People got to work, people got to make money. But no, we're told to stay at home and everything."
The two teenagers also lamented the fact that their academic performance has been negatively affected by the lockdowns. One of them is in eleventh grade and is strongly considering repeating the year instead of moving on to twelfth grade."
"I don't want to have to start year 11 again but it's got to the point where I have to," he said.
Melbourne's lockdown is due to end on Thursday, October 21 at 11:59 p.m., five days earlier than originally planned.
The city's curfew and restriction on traveling more than 15 kilometers (9.32 miles) away from a person's home will be lifted after the end of the lockdown. Restrictions for indoor and outdoor social venues like pools, cafes and restaurants will remain.
Listen to the full testimonial of the two Melbourne teenagers here:
According to the latest report from the international humanitarian aid group Save the Children, the number of days children in Melbourne have spent confined to their homes during the pandemic has exceeded the global average by 67 days.
Save the Children's analysis found that children around the world have lived under mandatory lockdowns for an average of 184 days since early 2020. For Melbourne, that number rose by over a third to an average of 251 days of lockdown. Australia's national average for children is just 60 days.
Only three other places in the world have a higher national average for children in lockdown. In Lebanon, children have had to stay home for 418 days. In Venezuela, intermittent lockdowns have kept children from going outside for up to 491 days. In Zimbabwe, children have been prevented from leaving their homes for nearly nine months this year alone.
Save the Children released this report on Oct. 10 to mark World Mental health Day. The organization pointed out that the extended lockdowns in Melbourne and other parts of the world were taking a devastating toll by putting children and teenagers at increased risk of loneliness, emotional distress and even abuse.
"Children are resilient but they are also vulnerable in disasters like the Black Summer bushfires [from late 2019 to early 2020] and the COVID-19 pandemic," said Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds.
Ronalds believes if Australia isn't going to take the children out of lockdown, the least the country can do for them is to provide them with better mental health and wellbeing support, stronger educational services and "a coherent national strategy" to keep students engaged with learning.
"They have specific needs and require specialist support to recover," said Ronalds. "Schools are ideal settings for providing this support. Yet school systems are already heavily overburdened. Specialist programs are urgently needed to complement existing efforts."
Ronalds noted that Australia already had high rates of student disengagement even before the pandemic. The continued lockdowns threaten to turn this national crisis "into a generational rupture."
Learn more about how COVID-19 lockdowns are affecting children around the world by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.