Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, February 09, 2007

Violence in Iraq causes psychological damage on children

As a result of the ongoing violence, signs of psychological stress and damage to Iraqi children have surfaced, The Guardian Unlimited reported on Tuesday.

Violence directed at students and teachers has become so common that mothers are refusing to allow their children to attend school. In one case, a group of students witnessed their teacher removed from his car, and then murdered. School attendance has dropped to nearly half its normal rate.

Children are displaying symptoms of stress such as bedwetting, nightmares, and panic attacks, amongst others. According to psychological and aid organizations, many of these cases continue to go unmonitored and untreated. The Association of Iraqi Psychologists (API) has asked the international community to assist them in establishing a care-unit where children can receive psychological therapy. API hopes to treat potentially chronic emotional damage and curb the cycle of violence. Currently, local hospitals do no have the resources necessary to care for all of the afflicted. Previously, international aid organizations were assisting in this process; however, due to the continued violence, many organizations have been forced to leave.

Previous cases of childhood psychological trauma in war-torn areas have demonstrated that many of the stress symptoms dissipate once the violence ends. However, some say that the fact that Iraqi children continue to mirror the real violence that surrounds them in play-games - playing with toy guns, pretending to be a member of the insurgency, etc. – does not bode well for the future. Yet, amongst the psychological community, such caricatures are thought to be a healthy outlet. According to eminent Iraqi psychologist, Harith Hassan, “We must now learn instead about dialogue and compromise. Otherwise, we will continue to produce psychopathic personalities for whom violence is simply a means of negotiating daily life.” The key is to foster a healthy home and school environment in which violence does not appear to be a necessary means, Hassan said.

For the full article, click here.


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