In the past few months, we have witnessed a steady news flow of geographic zones that have been devastated by the conflict of war. We see the missiles that destroy buildings, homes, schools, and even hospitals. We hear of how many families have lost loved ones to terrorism and war crimes. There are even more stories of families trying to escape their community, leaving all their belongings and homes in order to protect their families. These stories are tragic and leave a wake of trauma and destruction.
I was distressed to learn from the Save the Children website that there are currently over 200 million children living in some of the most intense war zones, the highest in over a decade. This number appears to be growing world-wide.
The Devastating Impact of War
Additionally, The report, “Stop the War on Children: A Crisis of Recruitment” also revealed that 337 million children were living near armed groups and government forces that recruit children, a threefold increase from three decades ago (99 million in 1990). The number of countries where children are recruited—and where more than half the world’s children (nearly 1.3 billion) live—also jumped to 39, its highest in 30 years.
The impact of this on the lives of these children is life-dominating and enduring in decades of devastating impact. Children in these areas typically live in poverty and are largely uneducated. They can become victims of physical, emotional, and sexual violence. They may also witness the travesty of war including injury, deaths, and loss of loved ones.
Predictably, children in these war zones are anxious, insecure, lonely, withdrawn, tend to become aggressive, have psychosomatic symptoms, participate in self-harm, and are often suicidal. Yet, there is usually no one available to help them through all this pain and loss, since most of the community is in survival mode and have no therapeutic resources.
This massive group of children should have their own Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scale, which leaves life-long adverse effects. It would be far beyond what we typically have attempted to measure. It appears they have a more intense scale of trauma that will have significant impact to their future emotional, relational, and mental health.
Building a Safe Future
As we hear these war zone stories, we all should be cognizant of the impact it has on our global community of children. It will have lasting effects on the future of their lives, families, and country. For the sake of children globally, we all should do everything we can to support peace, safety, and security for them. They’re innocent victims caught in the tragic circumstances of war, and the pain and suffering that accompanies it. They deserve a safe environment to grow up in. We need to recognize how essential it is for their survival and the future of their fragile lives.