Closed schools, holidays traumatise kids

Closed schools, holidays traumatise kids

As well as sweeping away homes and livelihoods, the worst floods in a hundred years to have engulfed Chennai also ruined the studies of thousands of school-goers.

This time of the year is usually when children spend time at school getting their doubts clarified and working hard for their half-yearly exams. Now, most of them idle away their time at shelters, unable to overcome the shock of losing their study implements.

Some of the children have been traumatised by the fact that everything, right from their schoolbags to books, notebooks and uniforms, have been lost. “I am scared to go to school since most of my books have been washed away (in the flood),” said S Vignesh, a class III student, terrified over the prospect of being scolded by his teacher for not bringing his books.

Vignesh is aware that everything at home, including his favourite television set, has been swept away in the floods, but nothing seems more miserable than losing his precious books. Primary schoolteacher S Geetha said inability to access their books and a sudden halt to their studies have a demoralising effect on school-goers. Noted psychologist S Mona agreed, saying children suffer from post-flooding traumatic stress, besides depression and phobia.

At several makeshift shelters housing flood victims, which this correspondent visited on Tuesday, the full impact of the catastrophe on livelihoods and education of children was evident. “My daughter is badgering me about school. She is distressed watching the exhausted crowd crying everywhere,” said K Vanaja, resident of the worst-hit suburb of Anankaputhur.

Since her house is fully damaged, Vanaja has no clues as to when she would return and feels frightened by the idea of a long stay at the shelter. The Tamil Nadu government had no choice but to declare a month’s holiday.

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