'Children could be worst sufferers'

As thousands of families in flood-hit Kashmir continue to remain without proper shelter, food, healthcare and other basic amenities of life, experts fear children could end up to be the worst sufferers.

They say the devastating flood can have a lasting impact on the psyche and general health of children.

“The trauma has happened, and right now what the affected people need is relief and rehabilitation including food, clothes, shelter and healthcare. If we are able to do it within next six weeks to three months, then the psychological morbidity is goin to be minimal,” Kashmir’s renowned psychiatrist Dr Arshid Hussain told Deccan Herald. 

However, he warned that if the government and the NGOs fail on these counts, the repercussions could be shocking.

“If we fail to provide basic amenities to the affected children, it will affect them badly in future given the images of devastation embedded in their minds,” Dr Hussain suggested.“Parents have to ensure that they don’t create fear among their children. You have to show coping resilience to your children which can be of great help,” said Dr Hussain.

“Children don’t perceive fear till you create it. For them playing with water is a fun. But if you yourself are fearful and angry that frustration might reveal into children,” he said.

Friendly environment

“Parents need to play with children and build a friendly environment. That is how trauma can be overcome,” he added.

Secretary of Social Welfare Department Muhammad Shafi Rather said they are assessing how many children were affected by the flood.

“International aid agencies including Save the Children are also surveying the impact of flood on children,” he added The recent flood, which directly affected more than a million people across Kashmir, has been termed as a disaster of “international magnitude” by the government.

Vranda M N and S Seker of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Hospital, Bangalore, have written in the Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology that the impact of disaster on children are mediated by many factors including personal experience, developmental competency, parental reaction, gender and the level of disaster response.

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