MICHAEL Gove says he “worries” that it was a mistake to close schools in Covid.
And he blamed the lockdown for fuelling the epidemics of knife crime and anti-social behaviour sweeping teenagers in Britain.
He spoke out after schoolgirl Elianne Andam, 15, was stabbed to death on her way to school in Croydon, south London.
Mr Gove was famously pro lockdown during the pandemic – often siding with the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock for tougher measures.
In his frankest comments yet, he said he feels a “personal responsibility” for the toll lockdown has taken on the lives of kids.
Mr Gove said: “Post lockdown, we have seen more children, particularly teenagers, not in school.
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“Truancy and persistent absence overwhelmingly leads to – among some children and young people – antisocial behaviour, the lure of gang life and county lines and other criminal activity.
“So, from my point of view, one of the most important things is to get children back into school.”
Asked if it was a mistake to close schools, he said: “I worry about that a lot. I don’t know.”
He added: “I think, overall, more judgments were right than wrong.
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“But I think of all the decisions we had to make, that was one of the most difficult and it’s the one where I worry most about consequences.”
Whoever took a chainsaw to the famous Sycamore Gap Tree at the Hadrian’s Wall has sunk to new lows of anti social behaviour, he said.
But he refused to criticise David Cameron for his infamous “hug a hoodie” approach to wayward youths.
He added: “I think we should put a firm arm around their shoulder and lead them back into school.”
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