Home Illinois One in four parents lied about their child’s COVID status, study finds

One in four parents lied about their child’s COVID status, study finds


SALT LAKE CITY, UT (ABC4) – A recent nationwide survey showed that approx a quarter of parents misrepresented their child’s COVID-19 status or did not follow COVID-related guidelines during the pandemic.

The pandemic has been a difficult time for many, but especially for people with children. Many parents still had to physically work outside the home while trying to run errands at grocery stores and other public places.

Some even appear to have tried to limit policies or guidelines to deal with COVID because they believed it was their right as parents to make those decisions for their children, the survey found.

“These are really tough decisions, and people have had to balance what’s right for their family and what’s right for society,” said Utah State University Department of Public Health Professor and Chair Angela Fagerlin. “I don’t want this study to demonize parents because we all did the best we could with the resources we had. It just highlights the problem of relying on people that their children won’t get sick.”

A collaborative study University of Utah Public Health Researchers analyzed 580 responses from a sample of more than 1,700 US adults. All of these responses came from parents who had a child under the age of 18 living with them during the pandemic.

In the most common situations, parents who had a child they thought or knew had COVID did not report the illness to someone who was with the child. The same parents who lied or misrepresented their child’s COVID status (or did not follow guidelines) were also more likely to allow their child to violate quarantine rules.

According to the study, the main reason parents lied or did not follow the guidelines was to maintain autonomy in how to raise their children.

Of the 580 respondents, nearly 26% reported either lying or failing to follow guidelines in at least one of the seven behaviors. In addition to not telling people their child was sick or breaking quarantine rules, parents also reported: avoiding getting their child tested for COVID-19; lies about vaccination; or say that their child should not have been quarantined if they knew they should.

The parents weren’t just lying to avoid COVID-related restrictions, either. According to the study, some parents reported lying about their child’s age, saying they were older to get the vaccine. Other parents said they would claim their child had not been vaccinated, even though they actually had.

“They tried to vaccinate their child earlier, which may have helped prevent disease in some cases,” Fagerlin said. “There was still some concern about that because we know there was a reason the vaccines weren’t approved for younger children yet.”

The desire to preserve parental freedom over children was reportedly the most common reason for lying about or avoiding the COVID policy, but it was not the only reason.

According to the study, many parents said they wanted their children to lead a “normal” life before the pandemic or didn’t want them to miss out on a fun event by staying home. Other parents reported that they did not understand the policy regarding COVID or claimed that their child did not feel very sick.

The study’s researchers said the findings illustrate how public health measures could be compromised by parents lying on behalf of their children, ultimately increasing the number of cases and deaths from COVID.

“Our findings suggest a major public health challenge in the immediate context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including future waves affecting weary parents as well as future infectious disease outbreaks,” the study authors write.


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