At least one in four parents misled other people about their children having COVID-19 and giving enough information about the disease.
More than 25 percent of moms and dads have admitted they were less than truthful about their kids’ Covid status or that they didn’t properly follow guidelines during the pandemic.
One of the most common reasons cited was an inability to stay home from work to care for their sick children.
Another was wanting to make decisions about their child’s health care without input from outside authorities.
Others had a different motivation with some parents of younger children lying about their child’s age, so they could get vaccinated.
Researchers believe the actual proportion of parents who lied may be even higher.
Doctors say the survey raises concerns that the reluctance of moms and dads to disclose that their children had Covid could have contributed to the spread of the virus and increased the number of deaths.
Co-first author Professor Andrea Gurmankin Levy, of Middlesex Community College in New Jersey, said: “The pandemic created tremendous stress for all of us, particularly parents.
“Like everyone else, parents worried about getting sick with COVID-19 or about losing their job, but parents also had to manage juggling job responsibilities while their children were home in quarantine.
“And it’s quite possible that some parents misrepresented their child’s COVID-19 status or didn’t adhere to testing or quarantine rules in an attempt to ease some of this burden.”
Overall, around 26 percent of parents misrepresented a child’s coronavirus status in some way.
Of those, about 60 percent admitted deceiving others about their child’s vaccination status when they wanted their unvaccinated children to participate in an activity that required a jab.
Among parents who admitted misleading others about their child having the coronavirus or not following public health recommendations, more than half said they did so because they wanted the freedom to do what they thought best for their family.
Nearly 43 percent of parents said they didn’t tell others that their children had COVID because they didn’t want them to miss school.
Just over a third of parents (35 percent) didn’t disclose that their child had the virus because, in part, they could not afford to miss work to care for them.
Study senior author Doctor Angela Fagerlin, of the University of Utah, said: “Based on our study, it appears that many parents were concerned about their children missing school, and as a parent of three school-aged kids, I can understand that.
“Yet, at the same time, they’re potentially exposing other kids to a serious illness.
“So, it’s tricky because what you might think is best for your child might not be best for other children in the classroom.”
Some parents misled others but did so in ways that were unlikely to harm others, according to the researchers. For instance, some parents told health care workers that their child was older than they actually were, so they could be vaccinated.
Dr. Fagerlin said: “Parents might have thought that fibbing about their child’s age was a good thing because it would help them stay healthy and safe from the virus and potentially protect others around them.
“But there was a cut-off age for a reason. The vaccine hadn’t been tested in younger aged children, and it wasn’t clear that it would be safe or effective for them.”
The researchers also suspect that some participants may have fudged some of their survey answers.
Dr. Fagerlin said: “Lying about lying is certainly a possibility.
“If anything, 26 percent is probably the minimum number of parents who misrepresented their children’s Covid-19 status during the pandemic.”
The researchers say health officials need to develop policies and technologies that don’t depend on the honor system or jeopardize privacy to protect public health.
Prof. Levy added: “We need to do a better job of providing support mechanisms like paid sick leave for family illness so that parents don’t feel like their only option is to engage in misrepresentation or non-adherence to public health guidelines during a future infectious disease outbreak that matches or exceeds the magnitude of Covid-19.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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