Introduction

Zaid Tabaza

Over the past 15 years, war has become prevalent in the Middle East, starting with the Iraq war in 2003, up till the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars that began in 2010 and 2014 and have lingered to current time. The scars of these wars have manifested in infrastructural annihilation, physical harm, economic and educational deterioration, and the psychological damage left on people. Such warfare has precipitated the extensive influx of refugees in attempt to seek asylum in neighboring countries. Jordan, being in the midst of this warzone, has been amongst the most countries to receive refugees. The most recent statistical studies have indicated that Jordan is a home for around 1.2 million Syrian refugees, 55% of which are legally registered. Refugees, having experienced war, were exposed to violence in several ways, including witnessing military action or terrorism happen in front of their own eyes, losing friends or family members, hearing the piercing sounds of tanks obliterating their homes and countries, and encountering physical harm themselves.

 

In specific, and as it relates to children, the psychological impact of war on children refugees is more accentuated, since they are more vulnerable and dependent on their communities. Moreover, war has robbed children of basic emotional needs, such as supportive and strong family members, a stable life, consistent education, a healthy upbringing, and a sense of security. Children refugees constitute a lost generation who are expected to participate in constructing their country and to be the essence of their community. One of the topics that haven’t been extensively researched is the psychological effect of exposure to war on children refugees. Therefore, I found it of paramount importance to gauge the psychological and mental effect that their experiences might have on them, particularly with regards to propensity to violence, perception of the current world, dreams for the future, and attitude towards thinking. This study aims to investigate the psychological effects of exposure to war on children refugees aged 9-17 years old. I hypothesize that children refugees will have a higher tendency to aggression, a darker perception of the world, minimal less hope for the future, and high more negative thinking.

Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham are amongst the very few psychoanalysts to consider studying a similar topic. They wrote a book called “War and Children” during World War II. The book concluded that children suffer more exaggerated psychological implications from war, and emphasized the importance of paying extra care towards children during war conditions by continuing to provide them with psychological support and sufficient, appropriate education. (War and Children) Other research done by Fuaad Freh in 2015 shows that children have a high propensity to develop traumatic disorders, such as PTSD, as a result of war, and therefore should receive more attention and care. Research made through available sources (mainly the internet) did not reveal similar research about the effect of exposure to violence on children refugees with regards to the aspects being considered in this study.

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