Why is war bad for children?

by Trailerman Sam

The only time human will stop fighting is when they go to the grave, those were the wise words of the highly-elevated yogi monk, Dada Tapeshvarananda.

Sad to say, some extremists with a head full of egotism would conclude otherwise, we don’t die, we will just regroup in hell to incite another war and keep on fighting.

Here we will go once shooting, bombing and killing each other in the name of whatever false doctrine is planted in the brain. Isn’t this world big enough for 8.1 billion (as of mid-2023)?

If only the trillions of dollars used for the military could be channelled into positive use, even the Gobi or Sahara deserts could be turned into a vast greenly land just like a holiday paradise.

Illustration courtesy of ONET

The most vulnerable in any arm conflict are the innocent lives of children. Children may lose limbs, their sight, or cognitive capacity. Many more children may die or become seriously ill from the indirect physical effects of war.

Death, injury, sexual violence, malnutrition, illness, and disability are some of the most threatening physical consequences of war while post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety are some of the emotional effects.

War must be defined as a serious global public health problem. The public health’s imperative must primarily be prevention.

If a peace system can be devised for an entity as large, diverse, and populous as Europe, (of course, we still have the prolonged conflict between Russia and Ukraine), it should be devised at a global scale. It would be naive to suggest that this is easily achievable. But it would be cynical, in the light of the suffering of the war-affected children of the world, to accept war as an inevitable part of the human condition.

Many of the harshest effects that war have on children’s lives have little to do with conflict itself but more so with the second-hand impact. Key things such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure, but nothing kills more like hunger. Millions of people who’ve been displaced by conflict experience extreme food shortages.

Hunger is also used as a weapon of war. In fact, children living in conflict zones are more likely to die as a result of hunger and hunger-related diseases than within the conflict itself, more than half of the world’s hungry children currently live in conflict zones.

Children growing up in armed conflicts are often overlooked or neglected when it comes to the ocean deep mental scars. A prolonged exposure to violence, fear can creep into the mind of children resulting a catastrophic impact on children’s learning, behaviour and emotional and social development till death do them apart.

Growing up too quickly in order to survive in midst of falling bombs, ruined homes and without the basic needs of and food and proper drinking water will definitely make a child to lost his or her sense childhood.

It doesn’t end with past trauma, either. Displacement can further affect the mental health of children, leaving them to develop a number of unhealthy mechanisms in response to their heightened vulnerability.

Even if a conflict ends and they’re able to return home but their bitter experiences may remain with them for the rest of their lives. As these children grow up into adults, there is a high possibility the hatred buried deep in them would be released vigorously someday in the future.

A world in which you see an entire tribe of people as lesser as roaches, as vermin, how you justify gunning down hundreds of unarmed teenagers? How do you rationalise bombs being dropped house to house or intentionally setting houses on fire with infirm, elderly people still trapped inside, and unable to escape

There’s no acceptable excuse when it come to armed conflict. The young ones should tell the old jackals to fight their own war in an area far away from human populations. One to one, one old head of any group with the general of his sworn enemy, just like in the movie John Wick Chapter 4 starring Keanu Reeves. After much killing and slaughtering, both of the hero and the villain set for a one to one showdown. Of course lah, the good guy wins!

Children ought to be told what empathy is all about while debunking the hatred of others because of the colour of their skin or religious beliefs. All the world needs now is just that, much empathy and love as humanity will not survive another world war.