AP

Parents, police struggle to herd the young in virus outbreak

Mar 20, 2020, 7:17 AM | Updated: Aug 11, 2020, 10:28 am
Spring break revelers party on the beach, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Fla. As a resp...
Spring break revelers party on the beach, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Fla. As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all bars be shut down for 30 days beginning at 5 p.m. and many Florida beaches are turning away spring break crowds urging them to engage in social distancing. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Teen: “I can’t stay here all day. What about my friends!?”

Parent: “Are you kidding? This is serious!”

The adolescent brain is definitely in play as authorities around the globe struggle to keep young people from gathering, while parents fret at home about what they’re up to as the coronavirus spreads.

“It’s like herding chickens,” said Southampton, New York, mom Anastasia Gavalas, with five of her own who range from 13 to 21.

She spoke Tuesday, just two days into school closings that could last for weeks.

“They feel well and the weather has been nice so they think they can go and do anything. If they can climb over locked gates and play ball in the park, they will. If there’s one store that’s remained open, they’ll find it and go in. No matter how much I ask, they’re getting out and doing something,” Gavalas said.

Impulsiveness, unsound judgment, egocentricity. Toddlers or teens?

Rachel Busman, a child and adolescent psychologist with the Child Mind Institute in New York, said the still-developing adolescent brain can exhibit those traits and more, only now teens with thoughts of invincibility can potentially do real harm to themselves and others.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

Some teens are skipping over the reality that they’re potential carriers.

“They’re very much primed toward reward and primed toward immediate gratification,” Busman said.

What’s a parent to do? Especially those of highly mobile older teens used to far greater freedoms than virus restrictions allow, including college kids whose schools have gone to remote learning or remain on spring break.

“If you start the conversation with, ‘You can’t do that,’ you’re probably going to be met with, ‘Oh yes I can, I’m an adult’ kind of thing,'” Busman said. “The first step is validate. Let your teen know you get it, even if you don’t fully understand.”

In Europe and elsewhere, authorities have stepped in.

Belgian media reported roughly 300 people attended a rave in the Luxembourg Province town of Tenneville last Saturday. Police and federal agents swooped in and broke it up.

In France, teens who defy a lockdown on nonessential trips out could cost their parents fines of $40 to $150. All residents must fill out a form documenting why they’ve left their homes during the 15-day period. Hanging out with friends is not considered a valid reason.

Just as spring weather arrived in Germany, with schools, clubs and concert halls closed, “corona” parties have surfaced despite restrictions. In addition, police dispersed young people from several parks across Berlin on Tuesday, according to local media.

“It is not reasonable to invite a big party at home or other celebrations with many people,” said Lars Schaade, the deputy head of Germany’s public health agency.

Groups of teens have been congregating in cafes elsewhere in Europe.

Asked about the problem of roving young people, U.S. President Donald Trump joined the chorus Wednesday of those noting “they’re feeling invincible,” and sternly urged them to “heed the advice” to take care.

His coronavirus coordinator, Deborah Birx, warned of “concerning reports” out of France and Italy that young people have become seriously ill from COVID-19.

Some parents are doing what they can.

In Williston, Vermont, Ann Schmidt said her 17-year-old son isn’t one to sit around the house. He’s a soccer player and skier, but his soccer center has shut down along with the slopes.

“He’s been tooling around in his car, visiting friends. It’s very hard,” she said. “Taking away his physical activity is having a dramatic impact. I’m trying to be as empathetic as possible while keeping him safe.”

Schmidt sent him to a store with a credit card to buy an Xbox so at least he can play FIFA online.

In Manhattan, mom Alina Adams is holding her own with her three, ages 13, 16 and a 20-year-old home since his college closed.

“I’m being completely hands off because I know that the minute I suggest they do anything, they’ll be instantly against it,” she said. “My 13-year-old daughter has been making plenty of TikToks.”

___

Associated Press writers Samuel Petrequin in Brussels and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.

___

The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul stands with Lieutenant governor Antonio Delgado during their primary ele...
STEVE PEOPLES AP National Politics Writer

Takeaways from first primaries since Roe v. Wade overturned

The abortion debate consumed the nation this week, but there was no race where it mattered more than Colorado's Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, where businessman Joe O'Dea became one of the only abortion-rights-supporting Republicans in the nation to win a statewide primary this year.
11 hours ago
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, arrives to testif...
The Associated Press

Aide: Trump dismissed Jan. 6 threats, wanted to join crowd

Former President Donald Trump dismissed his own security about the threats at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to new testimony Tuesday.
1 day ago
QAnon Utah race...
The Associated Press

Utah’s GOP Congressmen defeat primary challengers

Utah's four GOP congressmen win primary elections, move on to November's general election.
1 day ago
FILE - Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, addresses a crowd during a rally on April 25, 2014, in Sandy, Utah. T...
The Associated Press

Sen. Mike Lee fends off 2 opponents to win Utah GOP primary

Utah Sen. Mike Lee claimed a victory Tuesday night in the state's primary election, defeating two challengers.
1 day ago
In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell, right, is seated beside her attorney, Christian Everde...
TOM HAYS and LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press

Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in prison

The sentencing was the culmination of a prosecution that detailed how Epstein and Maxwell flaunted their associations to groom vulnerable girls.
1 day ago
A technician works on a component of Rocket Lab's Electron rocket ahead of the launch on the Mahia ...
NICK PERRY Associated Press

NASA hopes New Zealand launch will pave way for moon landing

The mission came together relatively quickly and cheaply for NASA, with the total mission cost put at $32.7 million.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Parents, police struggle to herd the young in virus outbreak