It is difficult to overstate the appalling harms that have been wreaked on our children during the last year. Their lives have been disrupted and damaged to a shocking extent. They have been kept away from school, denied the company of friends and family, forced to wear masks, and surrounded by relentless images of death, doom and despair.
The long-term trauma caused to them will, in many cases, have life-changing consequences. An early example of the damage is the sudden rise in children suffering from tics: a clear sign of serious inner distress. Sadly, there will be many more.
The dreadful irony is that kids themselves are at virtually no risk from Covid. They are more likely to be struck down by lightning than to be felled by the virus. Neither are schoolchildren major drivers of transmission, and school closures have had a limited impact on overall infections. Yet children's wellbeing has been sacrificed, without their consent, in the name of public health.
So much for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which proclaims that "in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration."
During the pandemic, the best interest of the child has been pushed to the bottom of the pile.
We have allowed panic to blind us to our dereliction of duty to the most vulnerable, voiceless people in society: our children. When the fear finally abates, and we see clearly once again, we will look around in horror at the devastation we have caused them. In my view, they are a generation betrayed.
Some people have already realised how much the kids are suffering, and the urgent need to take action.
Earlier this month, more than 50 of Northern Ireland's top sportsmen and women called for the reopening of outdoor children's sport. In their open letter to the NI Executive, they noted that youth sport is continuing in many other countries without adverse effects, and that there are no confirmed transmissions of Covid-19 through participation in outdoor sport.
The letter, whose signatories include former boxer Paddy Barnes, Armagh GAA manager Kieran McGeeney and Coleraine football boss Oran Kearney, said that the "curtailing of outdoor youth sport is unnecessary and not supported by either science or best practice".
Professor Mark Woolhouse of Edinburgh University, who advises the UK government through the Spi-M group, has confirmed this. "This virus very rarely transmits outdoors," he said recently, adding that sports for children "could start perfectly safely today."
Ex-Armagh GAA player Aidan O'Rourke, another signatory to the letter, said that worried parents spoke of "behavioural issues at home, personalities disappearing, young people sitting in front of screens all day, all evening."
Since the letter was sent to the NI Executive, England has announced that children will be able to resume sport when they return to school on March 8th. This represents a long overdue recognition that physical activity, and the social interaction associated with that, is vital to children's wellbeing - especially after months of virtual house arrest.
So will our own youngsters, here in Northern Ireland, also be allowed to play sport soon?
No, is the short answer.
The sports stars' desperate plea has been rejected by Stormont, which has extended lockdown restrictions until 1 April. The return of youth sport would be considered "when the medical and scientific advice indicates that the circumstances are right," said a statement from the Department of Communities.
Speaking on the BBC, the Health Minister Robin Swann acknowledged that it was better for children's mental and physical health to be active outside. But he said that the message was still for people to stay at home.
So are we to conclude that Stormont considers the stay at home message to be more important than our children's health?
Vague statements about scientific and medical advice are meaningless without evidence to back them up. Government advisers can be quick to issue dire warnings about future surges of the virus, yet they do not show us the scientific data on which such predictions are based.
Meanwhile, our house-bound children continue to suffer.
Earlier this week, I saw a bunch of youngsters having an impromptu kickabout on a pitch near my home. The sheer joy on their faces was a delight to behold.
One day, there will be a reckoning. Politicians and state authorities will be held to account for the extraordinary decisions they made during the pandemic.
Until then, at least let the kids play football.