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
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid