Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syrian Children in State of ‘Toxic Stress’: Report | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Children walk together as they flee deeper into the remaining rebel-held areas of Aleppo, Syria December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

London- A wide stake of Syrian children could be living in a state of “toxic stress” due to prolonged exposure to the horrors of war, aid group Save the Children said.

The research drew on interviews in seven provinces with more than 450 children, teenagers, and adults within the largest mental health survey inside Syria during the war.

Almost all children and 84% of adults said that bombing and shelling was the number one cause of psychological stress for children. Fifty percent of children revealed that they don’t feel safe in schools or rarely do while 40% stated that they don’t feel secure when they play outside. Seventy one percent of interviewees reported that children were increasingly suffering from frequent bedwetting and involuntary urination.

Educators see that: “If the war does not end soon and children don’t get the psychological support they need, then the damage will be incurable when they become adults.”

“Toxic stress can disrupt the development of the brain and other organs and can increase the risk of addiction and mental health disorders in adulthood,” said Alexandra Chen, a child protection and mental health specialist at Harvard University.

Given that adults, themselves, suffer stress and struggle to cope, one child out of four children complained during the interviews that they find no place to go for or a person to talk to when they are feeling scared, sad or irritated.

Due to the endless explosions in the country, a considerable number of doctors and specialists have fled Syria ensuing in scarcity of psychological health services provided.

The report concluded with stressing the importance of putting an end to the damage caused to children through eradicating the radical reason, which is the continuous violence in Syria especially the airstrikes and shelling.