Many believed that the great wars ended during the 40s, but for others, war is their truth. Wars are transpiring in every part of the world which resulted in death, destruction, and displacement for many hopeless citizens. Wars have robbed children of their childhood experience and separated families. Wars yield no champions, only failures. Both sides squander more than gain any. A record generated by the UNICEF infers that children are the primary victims of the war with as many as “2 million killed, 4.5 disabled and injured, 12 million left without homes, more than 1 million orphaned and about 10 million children are suffering from psychological trauma”. Wars endure in the modern day and modern times; it is an inevitable fact that we have to face.
The increasing numbers of casualties confirm the existence of wars. Disputes are still taking place, and the innocent are entangled in between these frictions. Children are the most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Wars create trauma and stress, and other mental and psychological issues for children. Lasser and Adams (2007) argue that war has “profound psychosocial stressor on child and adolescent development, for it has the potential to inflict loss, disruption of stability, deleterious health effects, and family/community disorganization” (p. 5).
Wars separate families, with men and women being transferred to the front lines leaving behind their families. War upsets family dynamics and strips children of essential family values and knowledge about the significance of relationships. Alongside family interruption, war becomes a breeding ground for aggression. Despert and Symonds (1944) reiterate “when aggression is released on such a large scale as a war requires, it becomes increasingly difficult for the child to accept the need for overcoming his aggressive instincts” (p. 206). Constant exposure to brutality increases an individual’s likelihood of violence. In this case, children begin to adopt aggressive and volatile tendencies. Increased destructive inclinations can lead to significant effects such as crime and delinquency.
A study conducted by Despert and Symonds (1944) revealed that children who witnessed wars had increased anxiety than those who grew up in stable homes. Aside from stress, other problems that were of concern included “lack of self-confidence, a lassitude and vapidness, a sort of deadness unnatural to children, an unfed appetite for beauty, and a terrible need for physical affection” (p. 207). Children who have witnessed the horrors of the war undergo severe trauma and stress. Majority of these children develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Bhutta, Keenan, and Bennett (2016) acknowledged that the effects of exposure to war and conflict on young children include “post-traumatic stress symptoms, psychosomatic symptoms, disturbed play, and behavioral and emotional, and sleep problems” (p. 1275).
Wars results in negative repercussions for all, especially children. Children are said to be the future generation but what do we offer them aside from meaningless brutality and violence? Wars were crafted for personal reasons; therefore it is essential that we promote comradeship instead of tyranny. Wars deprive children of their families, their lives, and their innocence. As leaders of tomorrow, what can we do to help children suffering from the traumas of the war?
Bhutta, Z. A., Keenan, W. J., & Bennett, S. (2016). Children of war: Urgent action is needed to save a generation. The Lancet, 388(10051), 1275-1276.
Despert, J., & Symonds, J. P. (1944). Effects of war on children’s mental health. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 8(4), 206-218.
Lasser, J., & Adams, K. (2007). The Effects of War on Children: School Psychologists’ Role and Function. School Psychology International, 28(1), 5-10.
UNICEF. Children in War. Retrieved April 23, 2019 from https://www.unicef.org/sowc96/1cinwar.htm