Stolen Childhood

The following is an English version of an article written in German by Stefan W. Hockertz. I would like to thank Mr. Hockertz for allowing me to publish his article here on my blog. We do not personally know each other. I simply came across his article and enjoyed it enough that I wanted to share it in English. I’ve attempted to convey the sarcasm in his ‘voice’ as well as his seriousness. In most cases, I changed “Corona” to “Covid-19” or “Coronavirus.” In a few places where the German words could possibly mean more than one thing in English, I’ve added other English words with a ‘/’ in between them.

Stolen childhood

The prescribed masks have a highly dangerous symbolic effect, especially for children and young people. Exclusive reprint from “Generation Mask.”

by Stefan W. Hockertz

Photo: Dudaeva/

What is the pandemic doing to children and adolescents? Immunologist and toxicologist, Stefan Hockertz, is grappling with a problem which is too often drowned in the flood of information about COVID-19. Hockertz is particularly concerned about the consequences of the incomprehensible government measures and the one-sided media reporting in which facts get manipulated and risks are magnified. To get answers to the central question, he evaluated scientific studies, interviewed parents and teachers, and analyzed children’s drawings and captions. The author’s findings are alarming: The government’s measures and coverage of Covid-19 are destroying the institution of family, which is so important for children. Children are overloaded with death rates, pictures of coffins, and reports of unemployment, which also threatens their parents. In addition, they are – entirely unjustifiably – stigmatized as “super spreaders.” Exclusive reprint from “Generation Mask – How our children are suffering from the Covid-19 measures and what we can do about it.”

And then came the mask, the so-called mouth and nose protection. In the beginning there was still a lot of creativity in terms of shape, color and design. Many also wore masks with their soccer club emblem, a cool saying, animal caricatures, or obscure patterns. It was almost like a competition for the most noticeable face-covering. Mothers stitched in [or attached] a chord. Jokes were made. Coronavirus? Masks, toilet paper, baking yeast.

Face-masks — up to now, they were only known to be worn by Asian tourists and surgeons in the operating room — and they always seemed strange somehow. But everyday masks quickly took their place in everyday life.  They are apparently supposed to protect oneself against viruses, although the manufacturers exclude this on the packaging. “If you don’t wear a mask, you not only endanger yourself, but also others.” So it is postulated again and again like a prayer wheel (or an endless cycle) on the part of the government. In the next chapter I will take a closer look at whether this is actually the case.

Back to school. Wearing mouth and nose protection in class, during breaks, at the bus stop, and on the school bus is a real burden for many children and young people. It is almost impossible to recognize and assess others’ mental condition/sensitivities, mood/countenance, disposition/spirit, intended tidings/greetings, and other facial expressions [while wearing a mask].

Bülent Ceylan, a cabaret artist and comedian, replied in an interview: “In the past you smiled at each other. Today, only the eyes are seen!”

In addition, there are health concerns regarding the long hours people are having to wear a face-covering: susceptibility to infection, bacteria, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, carbon dioxide.

When school-aged children are asked to “report” others who are not wearing a mask, then we are on dangerous ground. It is not the critical questioning, the healthy skepticism, and the justified doubt about the “mask” measures that are offensive, but the demand for denunciation. The Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann: “Reporting Covid-19-violations makes sense.”

I plead for a careful consideration of the harms and benefits. What can a mouth and nose covering really achieve? Is the proportionality (or arrangement) of these measures justified? I make the claim based on evidence and scientifically factual consideration and study/investigation, far from lobbying, morally-right, or political party clashes or conflicts.

Distance, masks, ventilation: These are the “three cornerstones” of school measures to contain or rather prevent transmission. At times it takes on almost grotesque features/details when the students sit in the classroom with woolen blankets, hot water bottles, pillows, and teapots because the windows are wide open all morning. Colds are therefore inevitable. Ventilation is important, without question. But staying (and persevering) in cold rooms for hours in winter — how can effective learning be possible? Here, too, it must be stated that the measures born out of fear and insecurity are excessive. In this context, the well-intentioned (though alien) advice from Chancellor Angela Merkel that freezing children should counteract the cold in the classrooms by squatting and clapping their hands is ludicrous.

And this is what everyday school life looks like: green and red arrows on the floor, pre-defined directions (indicating which way to walk), spread out rows of chairs and tables, and standing in the lunch line at a distance of 1.5 meters [about 5 feet]. But then off to the overcrowded buses — where you have a maximum of 15 centimeters [about 6 inches] distance. That’s absurd!

The criticism of the crisis management of education politicians [politicians in the field of education policy] is getting louder. It is no longer just a few “crazy” conspiracy theorists and end-time prophets who see that we’re facing massive problems.

Meanwhile, the number of regulations, measures, commandments, and laws, which are increasing every day, is almost unmanageable. And always the anxious look at the number of infections: How is it in our village, in the city? In addition, each federal state has different regulations: halved classes, quarantine, homeschooling, face-to-face lessons for everyone, masks in class for everyone, masks only for secondary schools, school closures, alternating and shift work, hybrid teaching. Which way is right? In the meantime, it’s become clear that schools are not hotspots and that the risk of infection for children and adolescents is not as serious as initially assumed.

So we are now looking more closely at the collateral damage that the Covid-19 measures threaten to cause in schools. Will the warnings from scientists really be taken seriously? Why risk long-term — perhaps even irreversible — damage?

“There is a threat of a generation that will have to pay for Covid-19!” Said Thomas Krüger, President of the German Children’s Fund. A “mask generation” is developing in our society!

[“It threatens a generation, that Covid-19 has to pay for.” – alternate translation]

In the media it is often portrayed as if the children from “socially weaker” families had to suffer [more than others] from Covid-19 and its consequences. I want to contradict that. There is no classification of “Coronavirus winners” and “Coronavirus losers.”

In the following, I introduce a school girl and a school boy — from different contexts and ages: Anna and Mario.

Anna is 12 years old. She lives in a well-off family home where there are no material worries. Anna is a very creative, sensitive girl and expresses her feelings and mental state (sensitivities) in fine drawings. Anna has suffered from asthma since early childhood. The girl has the condition under control and is under regular medical observation and care. Anna attends a private school with the best equipment and a differentiated educational offer. [Note from translator: I’m unable to determine what kind of “offer” is intended in this case. Perhaps it’s some sort of IEP, Individual Education Plan. But, it may be more closely-related to something that the private school offers.]

As in regular schools, Covid-19 regulations apply to private schools, such as the obligation to wear a mouth and nose covering. Anna has big problems with that. The mask makes her breathing difficult, makes her dizzy, and then quickly causes her to panic. However, Anna does not want any special treatment. All of her classmates wear masks. Concentration is increasingly difficult for her, and she tires easily. To make matters worse, Anna is only allowed to meet privately with one friend. That’s how the current contact rules are. The girl is increasingly withdrawing into her own world.

A medical certificate exempts Anna from the mask requirement, and the school accepts this. In the case of one teacher, however, the girl is required to take a seat in the last row of seats. This measure results from the teacher’s concern about infecting himself. With other teachers, the pupil is allowed to keep her usual place. The child feels stigmatized in the face of this treatment. The mother says that her daughter’s earlier happiness has fallen victim to Covid-19 measures. Will her happiness return soon?

Mario is 14 years old. He lives with his family in an apartment. Mario likes to play soccer in a club or enjoys going out with his friends. Both are currently only possible to a limited extent. Mario is big and strong; he needs exercise outside. The apartment quickly becomes too tight for him. The boy is in the 8th grade of the secondary school. Professional internships [normally] would be pending, but they won’t take place. He got a laptop from the school for homeschooling, because his father needs the family-owned device himself. [Note from translator: It doesn’t make sense that he would be loaned a laptop from the school if the family owns it. I’m not sure if there’s a typo in the article that is causing this discrepancy, or what.] Mario does the school work, but somehow he lacks motivation. If he doesn’t understand something, who should he ask in the family?

Nevertheless, he does [his work] bravely and receives commendable comments from his teacher via Padlet. Mario chats with his classmates via WhatsApp . Two girls from his class suddenly kick him out of the class group — just because, for no reason. This makes Mario incredibly angry, and he sends one of the girls a voice message that tells all. In it, he threatens her and announces that he will kill her — “with tools from my father, he is a butcher.” The girl’s family files a criminal complaint against Mario. He later tells police that he doesn’t really know why he did it himself. “I was just really angry!”

Insights into two student realities at the time of Covid-19. The integration of those who think and learn differently, and indeed the inclusion of school-aged children in need of support, is a declared educational goal and right. 

Implementing this in the best possible way for everyone involved in everyday school life was already difficult before Covid-19.

I already quoted it at the beginning:

Covid-19 does not create anything new; Covid-19 only reveals.

Stefan W. Hockertz is an immunologist, toxicologist and pharmacologist, qualified as a professor at the University of Hamburg and was a professor at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf for many years. As an immunotoxicologist, Hockertz is the managing partner of tpi consult GmbH, one of Europe’s leading consulting firms for toxicological and pharmacological technologies. As a European Registered Toxicologist, he is responsible for the approval of drugs and vaccines. In addition to numerous specialist publications and lectures, Hockertz also devotes himself to literary writing. On the subject of Covid-19, he published numerous articles in the media, always motivated by civic responsibility, especially for children and young people.

Creative Commons license agreement

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons ( Attribution – Noncommercial – No Derivatives 4.0 International ) license. You may distribute and reproduce it in compliance with the license conditions.

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