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The nation’s recent lockdown policies and mask mandates will create a generation of children who exhibit lower IQs and signs of social brain damage, according to a clinical psychiatrist for children and adolescents.

Dr. Mark McDonald cited an Aug. 11 study by Brown University (pdf) that found that “children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic,” during an interview with host Cindy Drukier on a Dec. 25 episode of NTD’s “The Nation Speaks.” NTD is a sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.

The masks, “Zoom schools,” and lockdown mandates have led to “deprivation overall, of social contact, [of] not being able to see faces, being stuck at home all day long, [and this] has actually caused brain damage to the youngsters,” he said.

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In another interview in the episode, professor Carl Heneghan, the director of Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, cited evidence that pandemic restrictions and the “fear we instill into children” has led to the worsening of psychological problems.

Heneghan cited his Oct. 2 study, which concluded that “eight out of 10 children and adolescents report worsening of behavior or any psychological symptoms or an increase in negative feelings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“School closures contributed to increased anxiety, loneliness and stress; negative feelings due to COVID-19 increased with the duration of school closures,” the study reports.

“Deteriorating mental health was found to be worse in females and older adolescents.”

Adolescents above the age of 12 also did worse than children under 12, as adolescents face increasing peer pressure, social pressure, and are more aware of messages being delivered globally, according to Heneghan.

“The first thing is to deescalate any fear and anxiety around COVID for children,” Heneghan said.

“For children, [COVID] is actually a very safe disease” and children shouldn’t be worried about the impact of COVID “on themselves or their future health.”

He said that “shutting areas like schools was a mistake,” as keeping them open is good for education, “social connectedness, and well-being.”

“We should really prioritize education and those interventions that are in children’s best interest,” he said.

According to a Dec. 20 study, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also showed that mental health-related visits in 2020, when pandemic restrictions were first imposed, increased by 24 percent in 5- to 11-year-olds and 31 percent in 12- to 17-year-olds, compared to 2019 data.

Anecdotally, McDonald noted that he’s seen children who “refuse to make eye contact, who are wetting their pants or wetting the bed at night, cannot go to sleepovers—being away from their mother for extended periods of time.”

Teenagers, on the other hand, come out of lockdown restrictions being “so wrapped up in social media and phones and Zoom school because they’ve been trained for the last year and a half, that they do not even want to go out anymore,” he said.

McDonald called the government and media corporations out for creating a “behavioral conditioning program,” in which children are subjected to “irrational, ridiculous” situations such as eating outside on a 40-degree day and having to run marathons or play sports with masks on.

As of Dec. 27, the Biden administration is recommending that children “too young to be vaccinated” should be “surrounded by vaccinated people and mask in public indoor spaces, including schools,” according to the COVID plan on the White House website. “For those adolescents aged 12 and above who are eligible for vaccination, the most important step parents can take is to get them vaccinated.”

As of Dec. 27, the website states that “over half of the nation’s adolescents have been vaccinated.”

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