Innocent victims of conflict
In any society subjected to war or violence, children are the innocent victims. Even if they are not injured themselves, the experience is understandably traumatic. In conflict zones, children’s mental health is affected both directly – through witnessing violence and experiencing loss – and indirectly due to the impaired ability of parents to provide comfort and protection and the disruption of vital support networks.
In 2015, Professor Panos Vostanis from our Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour launched the global World Awareness for Children in Trauma (WACIT) campaign. Its vision is to raise awareness on child mental health worldwide, and to establish ways of helping children who have suffered trauma and live in the most adverse life circumstances.
“In any society, about one in 10 children and young people up to the age of 18 years suffer from mental health problems: emotional, behavioural, developmental problems or mental illness,” says Panos. “These rates can rise up to 40 per cent, or even higher, if children have experienced traumatic events such as abuse and neglect, war, being raised in care, or living on the streets.”