The social Effect of Terrorists' Attacks on Children

Syria is facing a global war, and acts of terrorism, which have been perpetrated by armed terrorist groups for a year and a half in many places in our beautiful country. Terrorism scares everyone because no one knows when or where it will take place.

Representing a high  percent of the Syrian society and being the most vulnerable group , children have been critically affected.

Emotional and physical responses:

Emotional responses vary in nature and severity from child to another, but there are some similarities in how children (and even adults) feel when their lives, houses, or when those whom they love are affected by terrorist attacks:

. Fear: it is may be the predominant reaction .

. Loss of control: they may refuse to cooperate, or go to school or leave their toys, and their parents.

. Anger: it is a common reaction, children may direct anger toward classmate, parents, or neighbors, because they are not able to express their anger against terrorism.

. Loss of stability: children can feel insecure when their usual schedules and activities are disrupted, or if they are not in their houses, these things increase their level of stress and need for reassurance.

. Isolation : the children who have a father in the Army, or who are staying with relatives ,they experience the loss of familiarity with the place or surroundings

. Confusion: this can occur when the dangers take place for a long time, they begin to ask:  “when the violence will stop? When are we going back to our home? Etc...” Some children do not understand the difference between violence as entertainment , and the real events taking place in their country, that is because of media and cartoon superheroes, so they have difficulty separating reality from fancy .

These emotions or feelings will lead the child sometime to losing sleep, not eating, crying, or increasing level of violence, and worrying too much as to even get sick.

Pre-school children:

The preschool children fear separation more than death, they are not really interested in the details of the world’s  politics, nor will they demand to know the details of the death toll or devastation. They are most concerned about whether their families will be well and stay together, in general they do not understand the end of death,they believe that death is a temporary condition. They worry more about being separated from their parents than about dying.

The following are some suggestions, when talking with your child about the recent terrorist attacks by the foreign-backed armed terrorist groups :

. Reassure your child that he or she is safe ,and our military soldiers are very brave to defend us.

. Limit the number of details given to your child to the simplest explanations.

. Be honest without sharing all your worries or fears.

.Limit your child’s exposure to news reports and discussions of the vast consequences of this crisis.

. Continue routines that the child is familiar with, and avoid unexpected separation, even if you are not in your house.

. Ask your child if he or she has any worries.

. Spend extra time with your child in useful activities.

School age children:

School age children will ask many questions, but they may misunderstand the information they are given, so it is extremely important for parents and teachers to check with children regarding their understanding of things, they may incorrectly understand the things that happen around them, or they may fear their school is likely to be attacked .Thus, children in this age, range require a great deal of explanation, and a limited amount of information.

Here are some suggestions when talking with school age children :

. Answer your child’s question without providing all the details.

. Check your child’s understanding of the situation after discussions, since school age children may misinterpret information resulting in panic or fear.

. Encourage your child to talk about his or her worries, and unpleasant feelings as well as altruistic thoughts.

. Invite participation of your child in altruistic actions such as collecting money, sending clothes, toys or other items to families in need.

.Expect some repetition in the discussion about terrorists or terrorist attacks.

. It is important to limit exposure to media coverage of violence.

Children who have lost their parents or family:

These children have suffered a lot, they may have many psychological disorders, aggressive behavior, many nightmares, dreams and loss of hope. For those children there must be many psychosocial programs as to limit the effects on children, prevent further harmful events, and strengthen their coping mechanisms. They must have comprehensive mental health services, the Syrian charity  society hand by hand must help them.

Actually, terrorism, and the stress associated with terror alerts, can have devastating effects on children and families. Teachers and parents can help by teaching their children how to be secure and conscious.

Botheina Alnounou

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