Picking Up the Pieces
Rebuilding the lives of Mosul’s children after years of conflict and violence
E. McCarthy, Y. Semmache et al. | Save the Children | 2018
Our new research, conducted in May 2018 in communities that have returned to west Mosul, found that the impact of this multi-stress environment on children has been profound. Children have not only had to live through war, but have returned to new challenges that remind them daily of their past traumatic experiences.
Children said they were experiencing intense sorrow and extreme sadness, with nearly 43 per cent reporting feeling grief always or a lot of the time. More than a quarter of adolescents reported never liking who they are and 12 per cent said they only like themselves a little. Only 9 per cent could think of something happy relating to their present and future, such as a school achievement.
Children showed signs of emotional distress, represented in feelings like sadness, depression and anxiety. This suggests that they are internalising their issues and letting things build up on the inside. Girls on the whole tended to internalise their issues more than boys.
Under such stressful situations, children might be expected to exhibit signs of behavioural distress like hyperactivity and aggression that are clear markers for acute stress. However, the children we spoke with were displaying symptoms associated with accumulative stress – a type of stress response that is created over time when children are exposed to traumatic experiences and then not given the space to recover and when they continue to be exposed daily to sources of stress. (...)
In May 2018, Save the Children interviewed 252 children and caregivers living in west Mosul. The research consisted of a quantitative and qualitative analysis of standard mental health and psychosocial support questionnaires given to 138 children aged 13 to 17 years (82 boys and 56 girls) and 114 caregivers (49 women and 65 men).