Syrian Children Carry Trauma Into the Classroom

Dec 22, 2015 by

When Syrian refugee children arrive in Canadian classrooms for the very first time, the anxiety they feel might be more than simply first-day-of-school jitters, say humanitarian relief workers and health-care providers.

Many may be experiencing the trauma of loss and displacement after months, if not years, of being out of school. Despite this stress, heading back to class is the best course to establishing a sense of normalcy, says Patricia Erb, CEO of Save the Children, a global humanitarian agency.

“The children have gone through incredible trauma. They’ve seen people die, their schools being bombed,” says Erb. “Getting into a school is getting back to a normal life. That’s what they beg for.”

The role of psychosocial programs

Ontario is expected to absorb about 4,000 of the 10,000 refugees expected to arrive by year’s end. The federal government plans to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees across Canada by February 2016.

Nearly five years into the Syrian conflict, as many as 2.2 million children are living as refugees, with limited access to education and psychological support. In a recent report titled Childhood in the Shadow of War, Save the Children says that one in four Syrian refugee children are at risk of developing a mental health disorder.

Psychosocial programs, which can involve art or play therapy, have helped children make sense of what happened and build their resilience, says Erb.

And yet these initiatives often receive the least funding, as resources in host countries are stretched thin, says the report.

Source: Syrian Children Carry Trauma Into the Classroom – New America Media

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