News / Africa

Child Trauma in Northern Nigeria is National Security Priority

Addressing Child Trauma in Northern Nigeria a National Security Priorityi
X
December 13, 2013 5:27 PM
The Boko Haram insurgency has killed thousands in northern Nigeria since 2009, but what of the tens of thousands of others who have lived through, and witnessed, the violence, in particular the children? VOA's Anne Look reports from Maiduguri.
Addressing Child Trauma in Northern Nigeria a National Security Priority
Anne Look
The Boko Haram insurgency has not only killed thousands in northern Nigeria since 2009; tens of thousands of others, including children, have lived through, and witnessed, the violence. The government announced that it will soon begin training counselors in the north to help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. For now, the staff at Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School, in Maiduguri, say they are doing the best they can on their own.
 
There are few resources available at the school for those orphaned by the insurgency.  The school is allowing those orphaned by the conflict to enroll for free.
 
Headmaster Suleiman Aliyu hopes the school can restore some normalcy to pupils’ lives.
 
"We have primary science, English comprehension. We have quantitative. We have Arabic, health education. We have computer. We have handwriting and fine art, all these are subjects," said Aliyu.  "You see some of them sitting alone, thinking.  When you ask them, they say they remember this or they remember that. So in such cases, sometimes we take them out of class and we sit with them, so that they will see us as their parents, so they will not feel stigmatized."
 
The father of Khadiza, a student at the school, went to work one day and never came home. Suspected militants stormed her cousin Salma's house in the night and shot her father. Salma saw it happen.
 
"No, I don't think about it now. It was destiny,” said Salma.
 
The school’s founder and director, Zannah Mustapha, interjects.  He says they "avoid memory lane."  
 
"Because we always try to tell them that this is destiny, that God made it.  So we try to put positive thinking in their mind so they will not have any grudge," said Mustapha.
 
The school opened in 2007 with just 36 pupils, and now has 420 and a waiting list of just over 1,000 names. The administrators of the school say that's directly related to the now four-year insurgency raging in Borno state.
 
It seems that every road you drive down in Maiduguri, every corner, every market you pass, has been the site of some kind of violence. On December 2 of this year, coordinated attacks struck several targets in the area.
 
Just weeks earlier, 14-year-old Bashir told reporters that he had been on his own since soldiers did a sweep in his neighborhood a year ago.
 
"They started beating us. I was begging them to leave my father, but they dragged him away," recalled Bashir.
 
Families have lost their homes, businesses and primary breadwinners.
 
Social workers say children here are showing signs of emotional stress like headaches, trouble sleeping and bedwetting.  Psychologist and a senior counterterrorism adviser for the government, Fatima Akilu, stresses the dangers of growing up in such a situation.
 
"You might have kids that are not able to function because they are reliving trauma way into adulthood. You might have kids that grow up to lash out at others because that's what they're used to," said Akilu.
 
Akilu also said that helping this next generation of children process their experiences through play, music and the arts is more than just a mental health issue.  It's a national security priority.
 
Abdulkareem Haruna and Heather Murdock contributed to this report.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More