Years ago, while fishing for salmon in Alaska, the guide informed us how they kept salmon eggs from fish they caught so they could use them on the line a short distance from the hook. Given that salmon do not eat once they start the journey up river to spawn we questioned him further and he explained how the overriding protective instinct of the fish is to protect the eggs – even when these eggs are not their own – which they achieve by taking the eggs into their mouth to remove the from danger. Of course, only to be snared and caught in the process for being a good parent.
Now, I start with that recollection because the current advice on coronavirus tat sets limits on proximity and physical contact with others is also now being cited as putting the young at risk by denying them access to school, emotional development, unhealthy isolation etc.
Which got me thinking: How important is physical contact for the young?
…and that’s when I remembered an account from the Blitz in WW2.
During this period, with the nightly bombing of London and other cities over two years, many new-born babies were without access to the mothers for reason of death or injury. As a result, a high infant mortality rate followed in virtually all of the hospitals. This troubled staff who worked around the clock dealing with a steady stream of those injured by bombing but there wasn’t time to reflect or think on what might be done for the babies- until one nurse had the idea of picking them up and cradling them.
The rest I cannot remember very well other than the nurse shared her idea and it became common practice for nurses to pick up and cradle each infant for a few minutes before moving on to the next and the one after that and so on. And, yes, the babies stopped dying. It seems human contact was the medicine they needed.
Linking this back to our current situation of Covid 19, while social distancing is a measure to stop the spread of the virus, it is a flawed solution in the long run as ‘we’ humans are made for contact. It seems to be inbuilt within us to have contact with others. For those isolating with their siblings and family it is not the same as for those isolating by themselves with limited social contact and loneliness. And what of the formational development of the child and teen? Right now, we are in unchartered territory and only time will tell the true consequence of our social distancing and isolation from one another.