War's Effect

War's Effects

The traumas and deficiencies of war inflict unpredictable and disastrous effects on the family. Roles and responsibilities are often dramatically altered (Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture and Trauma 1996). Traumatized parents become less able to emotionally support and protect their children. The extreme disturbances parents go through in war times produce new traumas for their children. Together, they confront financial difficulties and generational conflict, which further place additional burdens on all family members. More bad news from the home country continues to traumatize the family, while other people in the same country now are perceived as threatening. Language and cultural differences and dislocations aggravate the situation. Children are instructed not to trust anyone. The guilt that develops from leaving the family hampers emotional recovery among family members (Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture). These traumas and deficiencies are most telling on children.

War occurs for a number of reasons and perspectives as the number of people involved in a conflict (Bargo 2005). A peace treaty may officially end a war and military operations may cease, but the effects of a war cannot be erased from the soldiers' and civilians' consciousness. The impacts of a war reach far and wide and expand outward indefinitely. The impress can and is often indelible and haunting. The true victims of a war are the very real and very fragile men, women and children, whose wounds cannot be healed by ensuing peace treaties or truces. The raw emotions from the effects of war are difficult to process and linger through life even after peace has been established. These effects should be considered just as much as the dollars or other motivations, which inspire the declaration of a war (Bargo).

The declaration of a war may state some goals and parameters, but the extent always exceeds those parameters and goals once the war occurs (Radiant Justice 2005). It often leads to and encourages torture, rape and other extreme human rights abuses. Some take advantage of their position of power and the conditions of war. Some deliberately use these means to intimidate perceived enemies. In times of war, people are robbed of what is rightfully theirs, such as land, resources, possessions, and political systems. Examples are the victims of the ongoing Israeli war against Palestine, whose land were taken and given to United Fruit (Radiant Justice).

War makes orphans of family members (Radiant Justice 2005). The untimely death of any member of a family can be on account of a disease, a motor vehicle accident or a shooting, but it will be most disastrous to those who depend on that family member. There are thousands of such cases, which result from a war. A war is viewed as at least virtually unjust in that those un-involved in the conflict, such as young children, suffer directly or indirectly. The use of recently developed weapons of mass destruction explains why half of the victims at the beginning of the last century were civilians (Radiant Justice).

Regions in the world, which have been ravaged by war in the last several decades, reflect or cringe at a heaviness and sadness just below consciousness (Bargo 2005). The effects of armed conflict are retained and re-experienced in a most intimate way. These experiences extent outward other places and times and influence or condition future perceptions and experiences. The effects of a war on the human psyche are impossible to quantify and they are very real. Experiences in Guatemala, Israel, Sudan, El Salvador, Vietnam and Croatia can confirm this conclusion. Children are the greatest victims of a war, as they are the most vulnerable at times of war. They may also grow up in a society, which remains in a state of war. They constantly confront risk factors, such as gunshots, bomb blasts, fear, poverty, limited mobility and a lack of public services. Protective factors may also decrease or come to a halt and these include community centers, organized activities, playgrounds and counseling, which are for their support. A state of imbalance will very likely affect their emotional, psychological, behavioral and mental development and may even serve to perpetuate that conflict within them (Bargo).

The deficiencies and traumatic influences of a war, the disintegration of families, the extent of the social and moral changes brought about by invasion are factors, which modify the character and mental attitude of every member of the family, especially children (Mercier and Despert 2006). A study conducted on the psychological effects of war on children covered their psychological and physical adaptation before the war, through an anticipation of war and direct contact with the physical agents of war. They are specifically affected and traumatized by war events, such as evacuations with or without bombings, dispersion of the family, a lack of news, and forced contacts with invaders. It was found that children react according to their individual personality pattern. They are better able to adjust to immediate situations than older family members but they are nevertheless influenced by the attitudes of these older members. In their reaction to news about war, to homelessness, in a demonstrated increase in delinquency and stealing, in their participation in underground warfare, in their reaction to hunger and cold, children reflect the attitudes of the adult members of their family (Mercier and Despert).

Parents and other adult members of the family often take a pessimistic view of news of or about the war (Mercier and Despert 2006). Children may have a less pessimistic outlook towards personal tragedies but they are nevertheless generally influenced by the attitude or behavior by their elders. Children are more frank and better able to accept the death or imprisonment of their father or brother, which their mother or another older family member denies. The idea of having become homeless hits children only after being placed in foster care or institutions on account of their parents' death or disappearance. They ask for their mothers on the first day. When placed in new homes, children seem adjusted but it is at this time that they exhibit deep-seated trauma. These children hardly or never smile and do not show signs of gaiety and enthusiasm (Mercier and Despert).

The study noted an increase in delinquency and stealing among both adults and children, especially adolescents, during scarcity of food in times of war (Mercier and Despert 2006). Those who reject the invader harbor a double standard of moral values and this eventually modifies their psychology. At this time when feeding becomes very scarce and a matter of life-or-death, children begin to steal not only out of actual need but also out of psychological need. They steal even items of no use. Children also get involved in underground warfare. They are more acquainted than the enemy with the geography and culture of the people. They get involved in secretive and adventurous activities. In many cases, children are used effectively in fighting the enemy underground. These already destructive psychological effects on children are aggravated by corrupt policies of the occupying force or enemy (Mercier and Despert).

Victimized children at war show a more adjusted reaction to hunger than adult members of the family (Mercier and Despert 2006). The parents may be very anxious about their children's hunger and insufficient diet. They may feel anxious over saving as much food as possible. Children are generally indifferent to their parents' anxiety over food and hunger. They present themselves during meals but do not complain when their plates become empty. They are able to say that they have had enough or are not hungry. Children, however, react more to cold than to hunger. The study interrelated the opposite reactions in that a food ration, which is insufficient in calories, will make one more sensitive to cold. Children may actively play up to bedtime but they whimper because of the cold (Mercier and Despert).

War and preparation for war can be the single larges source of pollution and death in this planet (Radiant Justice 2005). Chemical poisons dropped during the U.S.A. war against Vietnam, for example, not only killed almost half a million people but also brought about the world's highest rate of spontaneous abortion in the succeeding two decades. War has lasting ill effects on both war veterans and those close to them. A survey of veterans in Vietnam showed that, years later, that they engaged in family violence at least five times more than their civilian counterparts. The psychic consequences affect society at large. High rates of divorce and domestic abuse result. Half a million of these veterans succumb to post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Vietnam veterans were reported to have traumatized an average of four other people, mostly family members. These family members become potential threats to their own families in their own generations and the most likely victims are their children (Radiant Justice).

Despite all grounds to declare or engage in war, it will breed more war and other forms of terrorism and repression in a vicious cycle, which is extremely difficult to…