There are many negative effects of war: human sacrifice and destruction of the economic system, but one of the most powerful influences with a delayed effect is the psychological impact on families, and especially on children. Children in war zones are physically and mentally damaged by war experiences. Direct physical harm includes death and injury due to bombing and fights. The psychological consequences include the impact of evacuation, moral trauma, and the inability to get an education. To prove the dangerous effect of war on family institutions, the child’s psyche and development, military conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan will be considered. To study the topic, primary and secondary sources will be used: primary sources include first-hand experience since secondary sources discuss the events over time. Both types of sources identify that war has short- and long-term negative effects on children.
War disrupts the provision of basic necessities for children and their families, such as food, water, healthcare, and education. As a result, both children and adults are deprived of basic things that ensure their emotional and physical well-being. Whole communities can be left without sufficient resources to sustain education or children’s development. One of the most negative impacts on a child’s mental and physical health has the phenomenon of child soldiers. In 2017, 3,179 children were reported killed as a result of conflict-related violence in Afghanistan. Although international laws and conventions prohibit the recruitment of people under the age of 18 as soldiers, in Afghanistan cases of child soldiers were present, which has led to numerous lost lives. This immoral practice increased the number of casualties on both sides as child soldiers are not as capable and professionally trained as regular soldiers.
In 2003, Afghanistan ratified the Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that children under the age of 18 cannot be recruited. This rule does not work properly since there is evidence of children involved in the conflict as soldiers. Moreover, the effect has already been created: child soldiers do not have access to the proper education, suffer from PTSD, or are killed and injured since they are at more risk than civilians.
A survey studying the effect of war on Iraq children was carried out by Dyregrov, Gjestad, and Raundalen in 2002. The results of the survey of children exposed to the 1991 Gulf War show disappointing consequences of the war on children’s mental state. The adverse effects of war are felt even after evacuation, as children report feeling depressed and anxious about well-being and safety of their families. There was no significant reduction of fear and frustration in children’s responses from six months to one year; however, responses declined two years after the war. The scores are still high, indicating that the symptoms persisted at lesser intensity over time.
The vast majority of Iraq’s children are affected by the war conflict. According to the Canadian team of health experts, children of Iraq are at high risk of being subjected to starvation, disease, death, and psychological trauma. Children at a very young age can clearly describe their fear of the war, they feel anxious and experience nightmares. War takes away childhood, forcing children to grow up earlier. The belief that children, if they are small, do not realize the horrors of war turns out to be false. Mina Tala was six years old when the war started. She felt a significant difference between war and peacetime, she tried to be close to her mother because they were both afraid of constant explosions. Thus, children of any age are aware of the danger of war and are exposed to its negative consequences.
In Latch’s Hear Me people share their experiences of surviving during the war conflict. Ms.Afifah talks about her experience of living through a military conflict in Syria as a mother of three children. When she had to send her children out to try to get food, she did not know if they would come back alive. They might have been killed by soldiers or bombs or might have been kidnapped. It is especially hard to be a parent who has to hide the grief and fear not to frighten the children. The devastating impact of war on families becomes clear from the interview.
The work examined several aspects of which war negatively affects families and especially children. Children become soldiers, die, and receive moral traumas during the war. There is also a delayed effect: living in constant stress has its results – children retain traumatic experiences throughout the years after leaving the war zone. The delayed effect of trauma, lack of education, and deprivation of a normal childhood have decisive consequences on the development of the person. Since the negative effects are identified, further research may be related to the study of how a person, who has experienced war as a child, develops.
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Dyregrov, Atle, Rolf Gjestad, and Magne Raundalen. 2002. “Children Exposed to Warfare: A Longitudinal Study.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 15, no. 1: 59–68. Web.
Latch, Sallie. 2018. Hear Me : Rare, Raw Interviews with Syrian Refugees and Other Heroes of the Refugee Crisis in Greece. San Francisco, Ca: Latch Publishing.
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