Feelings of depression, hyperactivity, a preference for being alone, and aggression were reported by 95 percent of children in Gaza, new research released by Save the Children has shown. The NGO is deeply concerned that the increasing violence children are experiencing and the growing sense of uncertainty will push their resilience to breaking point.
The combination of these symptoms in unison is consistent with deep psychological distress, with more than 96 percent of their caregivers also saying they recognized all four groups of symptoms in their sons, daughters or grandchildren. Findings revealed that children of Gaza were already showing worrying signs of distress including nightmares, which were experienced by 63 percent, as well as difficulties sleeping, reported by 68 percent.
For children, the threat of conflict, the fear of bombs, and the constant insecurity caused by the unstable political situation were the biggest source of stress, with 60 percent of caregivers saying it was taking a toll. Additionally, aircraft sounds were cited as the single biggest source of fear in 78 percent of children.
“Many children in Gaza have known nothing but blockade, war and a growing cycle of deprivation. Their stress and anxiety compounds with every day that they continue to live in uncertainty. And, on top of this, many have been injured or witnessed violence,” said Jennifer Moorehead, Save the Children’s Country Director for the occupied Palestinian territory. “They are trying to recover in an extremely challenging situation where there are not enough hospital beds or medicines to treat children properly, where there is no electricity for most of the day and where they are increasingly seeing their parents struggling to make ends meet."