" Teacher, what is IS? Why are they killing themselves ?."
Above are comments given by parents and primary school teacher regarding the current behaviour of children and the questions raised by them.
Furthermore, there is a risk Muslim children learning in mixed religion schools facing discrimination.
The children born in 1980s and early 1990s were eyewitnesses to 30 years of war in Sri Lanka and majority of youth born in North and South live with fear and suspicion towards each other.
The war ended in 2009 but it is doubtful if the psychological wounds have completely healed.
Even before completing 10 years after the end of war Sri Lankan children are yet again living in a society where violance and suspicion toward each other exists.
Even though most children were not directly impacted by the Easter Sunday attacks the children were exposed to video footage of dead bodies, suicide attacks and pre-recordings done by the attackers.
Following the events they continue to see the footage of weapons being found and hate speech towards different communities.
Dr. Apeksha Hewageegana, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist states that the number of children who are indirectly impacted by the incident are more and children may demonstrate signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety if the current social situation prevails.
Even if they do not develop psychological disorders it may have a certain level of impact on the development of children.
" Specially when building friendships they may develop changes in the way they interact with the society and the environment " Dr. Hewageegana stated.
According to Dr. Hewageegana following are the signs of a child who is facing such a condition;
#Changes in the sleep and appetite ( having nightmares)
#Changes in playing patterns
#Tendency to detach themselves from parents
#Attempting to isolate themselves
If you are observing such symptoms from a child, what are the steps taken by the parents?
According to Consultant Psychiatrist
# Children under the age of 2 and younger - Even if they are not fully aware of the current situation, the children feels that their parents are agitated and disturbed. As children tend to get agitated when mothers act agitated it is important to act calm around children.
Pre-school children- As they are aware of what is happening around the surroundings, it is best not to expose them to news telecast on media.
# It is best to avoid speaking to children about the current situation in the country. Similarly if children wish to talk about it they should be given the opportunity.
# If the child has already seen the footage or scenes and questioned it, then a clear answer should be given to suit the age. It should not be a detailed answer.
# Similarly they feeling that they parents and children as safe should developed within children.
Primary school children- Communicating with them , encouraging them to communicate and knowing their knwoledge of the current situation is important. It is not advisable to expose these children to news on the recent violent events that occurred in the country.
# It is important to show companionship and to listen.
Adolescent children- Even though they are aware of the current scenario that knowledge could be inaccurate. Due to social networking and the Internet they could get exposed to contradictory ideas.
# Parents should give their children an accurate understanding of the current situation as they are at the risk of being exposed to disturbing or harmful content and exaggerated reports.
# It is the responsibility of the parents to go beyond the footage shown on media and show the children what is happening in society.
At the same time, whenchildren of all ages from pre-school to adolescents are taken into consideration as Sri Lankans there are 3 main areas which we need to pay attention to , says Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist,Dr. Apeksha Hewageegana.They are;
# Hate - It is important no the develop a feeling which could lead to hatred towards a certain group.
# Heroism - Establish in children's mind that the incidents that occurred so far are not acts of heroism.
# Positive expectations - Develop an understanding, hope and an positive idea in children's mind that despite sorrowful events that occur the family and the country can return to normalcy.
Source - BBC Sandeshaya