Friday, November 30, 2007

War is not healthy for children and other living beings

Photo of Iraqi children at play by way of the Situationist.

Hussein, with McClatchy News, writes from Baghdad:

Yesterday noon, an American squad from the United State Army (about ten to twelve) broke in Al-Mansour preparatory school for one reason or another. We don't have the right to ask them why they came to the school. The soldiers spread in different spots of the school walking towards the back yard which is used as a soccer field. Most of the students were in their classes when the squad came, but still there were many students in the yard who were terrified to see the American soldiers with their guns. One of the students was upset to see the soldiers and he threw a stone and hit one of them. Three soldiers surrounded him kicking him with their boots for some minutes on different parts of his body.

Later, a teacher of English said that the captain of the squad told him "next time if students throw stones, we will use our machine guns not the boots". I really hated myself hearing that news as I am a teacher myself. What shall I do if I were there? ... What excuses will I give for that incident? My brain stops thinking from now on.

Some U.S. commenters on the blog are indignant that the actions of U.S. soldiers should be presented in such a light -- others express sympathy with the rational, if misplaced, fear the soldiers must have been feeling.

Last spring Washington Post reporter Sudarsan Raghavan investigated the question: what is this war doing to Iraq's children?

... Abdul Muhsin started to focus on children only last year. Like many of the estimated 60 psychiatrists who remain in Iraq, he treated only adults before the invasion. Back then, he said, children with psychological problems were a rarity.

Inside his bare office at Ibn Rushed Psychiatric Hospital, where armed guards frisk patients at the entrance, he flipped through a thick ledger of patients. In the past six months, he has treated 280 children and teenagers for psychological problems, most ranging in age from 6 to 16. In his private clinic, he has seen more than 650 patients in the past year.

In a World Health Organization survey of 600 children ages 3 to 10 in Baghdad last year, 47 percent said they had been exposed to a major traumatic event over the past two years. Of this group, 14 percent showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In a second study of 1,090 adolescents in the northern city of Mosul, 30 percent showed symptoms of the disorder....

Many of the children Abdul Muhsin treats have witnessed killings. They have anxiety problems and suffer from depression. Some have recurring nightmares and wet their beds. Others have problems learning in school. ...

He and other child specialists say as many as 80 percent of traumatized children are never treated because of the stigma attached to such ailments.

"Our society refuses to go to psychiatrists," said Abdul Sattar Sahib, a pediatrician at Sadr General Hospital in Sadr City.

The Iraqi doctors fear that the violence the children have experienced will pervade Iraqi society for decades to come.

We know already that U.S. soldiers bring the mental agony of war home with them.

Veterans aged 20 through 24 ... had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age. (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000, while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.)

CBS News,
November 13, 2007

1 comment:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ten to twelve armed soldiers against one boy with a rock? And they had to kick the boy? Seems something's out of balance here.

Way to go to win hearts and minds.

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