Syrian children terrified by shelling and airstrikes are showing signs of severe emotional distress and could grow up to be a generation “lost to trauma,” international charity Save the Children warned on Monday.
Interviews with more than 450 children and adults showed a high level of psychological stress among children, with many suffering from frequent bedwetting or developing speech impediments.
At least three million children are estimated to be living in Syria’s war zones, facing ongoing bombing and shelling as the conflict heads into its seventh year.
Two-thirds of those interviewed by the aid organization have lost a loved one or had their house bombed or shelled, or suffered war-related injuries themselves.
“After six years of war, we are at a tipping point,” said the report entitled “Invisible Wounds” on the war’s impact on children’s mental health. “The risk of a broken generation, lost to trauma and extreme stress, has never been greater,” the report added.
Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria director, cited instances of attempted suicide and self-harm. In the besieged town of Madaya, six children, the youngest of whom is a 12-year-old girl, have attempted suicide in recent months, Khush said.
A staggering 84 per cent of those interviewed listed bombing and shelling as the number one cause of stress in children’s daily lives.
About 48 per cent of adults interviewed reported that many children have lost the ability to speak or developed speech impediments since the start of the war.
Some 81 per cent of children have become more aggressive while 71 per cent suffer from frequent bedwetting, according to the research.
Half of those interviewed said domestic abuse was on the rise and one in four children said they do not have a place to go or someone to talk to when they are scared, sad or upset. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)