Childhood and Conflict

Dr. Fathia Mohamed

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The armed conflict, whether direct or indirect, remains the fiercest type of weapons of destruction at the economic, political, social, humanitarian and especially childhood levels, as the psychological impact of it remain in the long term. Children are most affected by these conflicts, and childhood is the most important stage of a person’s personal development, and its various events continue to influence the behavior of individuals and their personalities.

The age stage (from birth - to 18 years) is one of the most important stages affecting the personalities of individuals, so it is necessary for the surroundings of that stage to be a period of support for a normal upbringing free from psychological, social and economic disturbances that negatively affect the personalities of children in the future as they are the nucleus of sustainable development for the country's future, so how can we advance sustainable development without the intellectually and psychologically sound human resources.

Global statistics indicate that about (142) million children in the world live in areas of intense conflict, where the percentage of physical violations such as murder, deformation, recruitment and sexual violence has reached 74%. In 2019, the World Health Organization estimated that 17% of children in conflict areas suffer from various mental disorders.

Children in conflict areas are exposed to many violations, crises and experiences that leave negative effects on the near and far levels, as frightening and bad situations, and air strikes in conflict areas heighten anxiety, tension and trauma, Which means that they are exposed to toxic stress, which is a reaction to the continuous psychological stress of children who live in conflict areas continuously for a long time and without psychological treatments that negatively affect the structure of the brain. This affects the cognitive aspect and emotional discipline, and this is clearly reflected in their psychological and health condition.

In addition, conflict areas such as Yemen are hotspots for the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera, dengue fever, diphtheria, Celery ringspot and malnutrition, with the emergence of diseases that have disappeared for decades, such as polio. This is a result of poor health care, lack of health and food security resulting from the continuation of armed conflict.

Children in those areas are exposed to various types of disabilities, Or from the mines planted in their areas or in the areas to which they were displaced, where many families are forced to leave their homes located in conflict areas to other areas and live in tents or in the open, which are unsuitable areas for housing, and this in turn affects the lives of children as they lose plenty of opportunities for a decent life and  their essential rights. There are no opportunities for basic services as there are no schools, no hospitals, no clean water sources, and no healthy nutrition, in addition to their exposure in the areas of displacement to many abnormal behaviors, including physical harassment or sexual assault, mixing with many normal and abnormal people and their acquisition of many  Behaviors, some of which may affect the life path of these children in a negative way, leading to their delinquency.

The images of armed conflict clearly deepen on the cultural level of children, as the remnants of cultural conflicts leave a profound impact on the psychology and behavior of children with reflection on their personalities and their future, Such as the culture of carrying weapons, which is evident in those areas, as they prefer to carry weapons at all times which may cause them to commit murders and thus become juveniles who may not find centers to qualify them and correct their behavior. Even in their playing, the culture of violence, aggression, conflict and sabotage appears in their practice of playing, their use of beatings, their acquisition of nervousness and the intensity of emotion in dealing with others which negatively affects their behavior in the future.

Conflicts lead to poverty and deprivation of the family breadwinner, or the source of the family's livelihood, which pushes many children to go out to work in workplaces that are not commensurate with their ages or their physical capabilities, such as carrying weights and working on sharp machines. This affects their mental health because what they do is not commensurate with the requirements of their physical and psychological development stage, and their practice of these activities sometimes leads to  disabilities that may accompany them for life, or health problems that affect them in the future, or they may be physically exploited in exchange for providing an amount for the life of his family, or they may be attracted as mediators in the distribution of drugs that they may use, causing them to suffer from chronic diseases or lifelong disabilities.

The most dangerous negative forms of conflict are evident in family instability, as the family is the primary concern in caring for children. Family instability and family insecurity in its integral sense (the family - the home - the family breadwinner - a source of livelihood) mean psychological disorders. The child's life is socially affected by the loss of the family breadwinner, one of the parents, relatives or friends, or by viewing pictures of the dead and exhuming the bodies which make them suffer from chronic anxiety, phobia and fear of loss.

The areas of armed conflict are considered the most devastated areas on earth, so what these conflicts leave behind is more dangerous and influential than natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes, as negative effects of the psychological and spiritual devastation that accompanies military conflict remains accompanying children in different stages of their lives.

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