In a survey of 580 parents with children under the age of 18, about 26 percent reported that they misrepresented or lied about their children’s COVID-19 status, according to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Out of seven behaviors related to adherence to public health guidelines, the most common behaviors were not informing someone who spent time with their child that they suspected or knew that their child had COVID-19, at 24 percent of respondents, and allowing their child to break quarantine, at about 21 percent of respondents.
About 19 percent of respondents did not get their child tested for the coronavirus when they thought their child might have COVID-19
Other behaviors included:
- Stating that their child was older than they were so that they could get vaccinated (9.7 percent of respondents)
- Saying that their child was vaccinated when they were not (10.1 percent)
- Saying their child was not vaccinated when they were (12.2 percent)
- And saying that their child did not need to quarantine when they actually did need to (16.4 percent)
Overall, 150 parents, or 25.9 percent of the group, participated in at least one of these behaviors.
Out of the parents who exposed others to their child who they thought or knew had COVID-19, just over half said they wanted personal freedom as a parent as a reason why. About 48 percent of this group said their child did not feel very sick, which goes against medical research and general knowledge stating that the coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic individuals.
Autonomy as a parent was the most common reason cited in the survey across all behaviors. Other reasons for nonadherence included that the parent didn’t want to miss work or other responsibilities to stay home, or that they wanted their child’s life to feel normal.
Andrea Gurmankin Levy, co-first author of the study and professor of social sciences at Middlesex Community College in Connecticut, ventured that systematic support for parents could have prevented some of these situations.
“We need to do 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,” Levy said.
The survey was conducted in December 2021 in a nationally representative sample of adults with an average age of 35.9 years old.