Sunday, January 27, 2008

If We Could Only Put Children First

Imagine what our leaders would be like if they could somehow measure the impact of their decisions on the children who'll be affected as though those children were their own.

Would we be firing cluster bombs into populated areas and then leaving them there to kill the unwary if we knew our kids would be walking through there? Of course we wouldn't. So then, why is it okay when we do it if the foreseeable victims are someone else's kids?

This isn't an attack on Israel but it is about an attack on Israel. The UN Humanitarian Affairs Office has released a report on the psychological toll inflicted on Israeli kids in the town of Sderot from incessant rocket attacks from Gaza. While you read this, eliminate all thoughts of Palestinians or Israelis or their historical grievances. Just think kids.

"At least 75 percent of children aged 4-18 in the southern Israeli town of Sderot suffer from post-traumatic stress, including sleeping disorders and severe anxiety, new findings published in January say.

The report by Natal, the Israel Trauma Centre for Victims of Terror and War, comes after the town first came under Palestinian militant rocket fire from the Gaza Strip in 2001. In the last two years the number of projectiles has risen significantly, and in recent months rocket fire has become an almost daily event.

The Natal report, based on a representative survey, indicates that some 28 percent of adults suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. It suggests that the biggest impact was on the young, who suffer nightmares, loss of appetite and problems at school.

Some 120 children are currently undergoing long-term mental health therapy. This is not surprising, say experts, given that many times the rocket fire is timed for the early morning when children head to school.

During a visit by IRIN to the town on a school day, over 10 rockets landed in or near the city between 7am and 8.30am. Every time rockets triggered the warning siren - the now infamous `Tseva Adom' or `Red Colour' system - children ran for cover.

The system is only partially effective. One resident said the siren gives people between zero and 15 seconds to find cover - "and most of the time it's closer to zero".

Dalia Yossef, the manager of a local branch of a national organisation for trauma intervention, Hosen, said the challenge in treating the children was that the rockets continued to fall. "It's ongoing, there is no 'post'. How do you treat post-trauma in this situation?" she asked."

I suspect that, as long as each group targets, deliberately or inadvertently, the other side's children this is simply never going to end. By the way, the picture above is of Israeli kids - writing messages on shells about to be lobbed into Lebanon. I chose this picture to show just how sick both sides can be. That's nothing short of obscene.


Anonymous said...

Israeli scholar Bernard Avishai has more on this difficult situation here.

The Mound of Sound said...

Gene, thanks for the link. I went to Avishai's site and found it very thought provoking. I wish we didn't all keep ourselves in such deliberate states of futility.

Anonymous said...

If all children from anywhere in the world were treated half as well as people treat their pets....we would all be better off.