Society rifts hit child health says expert
Manama, July 2, 2012
Growing numbers of Bahraini children are suffering from sleeping problems, eating disorders and aggressive behaviour due to ongoing polarisation of society, according to an expert.
The symptoms of "chronic stress" has affected youngsters, aged between nine and 12, since last year's unrest, with some experiencing repeated nightmares.
The "shocking" pattern was discovered by the National Commission for Childhood, which operates under the Human Rights and Social Development Ministry, during its Peacemakers 2012 summer camp.
"It has become a chronic problem now as children are suffering from high stress because of the violence they witness in the streets and they require counselling," said commission vice-president and programme director Dr Jihan Alumran.
"The aim of the Peacemakers summer camp was to provide children with tools and knowledge to cope with conflicts and crises in their lives and to promote values of peace and tolerance."
More than 100 children took part in the five-day event, held as part of the Wihda Wihda (Let's Unite) campaign, which was supported by the ministry.
"These children have witnessed the crisis Bahrain faced last year and are deeply disturbed," said Dr Alumran. "Some mothers have told us their children do not eat properly, have sleep disorders and show aggressive behaviour."
A team of 33 counsellors held one-on-one sessions with the children to ensure they take part in workshops that dealt with anger management, psycho-drama and social skills, explained Dr Alumran.
She said they were shocked when they saw the results of one such drawing activity. "Fire and police were drawn in some paintings, while others depicted their inner dreams of fear because of what they witnessed," she added.
She stressed that political groups and authorities should stop the "blame" game which has dragged on to affect young children.
"We all should stop blaming each other or each side as it instils fear among children," she said. "It is important to implant social skills in children. Some of these children are victims of violence and they are self-injured because of seeing things around them and require counselling."
Dr Alumran revealed plans to roll out similar camps across the country to tackle the problem of sectarianism among children head on.
"We want to hold such camps in Jidhafs, Muharraq and other places so that we can target larger audience in different areas," she added. – TradeArabia News Service