January 17, 2008
by Mijal Grinberg and Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz Correspondents
Between 75 and 94 percent of Sderot children aged 4-18 exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress, says Natal, the Israel Center for the Victims of Terror and War.
Natal's study, set to be released in the coming days, was based on a representative sample. The study found 28 percent of adults and 30 percent of children in Sderot have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study was conducted by Dr. Rony Berger, Director of Natal's Community Services Department, and Dr. Marc Gelkopf, with the assistance of pollster Dr. Mina Tzemach.
The town of Sderot and the Western Negev as a whole have been subject to a barrage of rockets launched by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip for over seven years.
Code Red Drawings by Sderot Children
When asked to talk about their feelings due to the violent Kassam rocket attacks perpetuated on their town every day, the children of Sderot displayed enormous emotional stress through their words and drawings.
When there is Code Red I feel helpless
because I know I don’t have many options
to be saved. Our three story house is made
of plaster and I live on the 3rd floor.
When I hear the alert, my heart drops to
“Kids are under such stress that in some instances they cannot envision themselves within this horrific reality” - Tali, Therapist
JDC Working to Help the Children Living with Trauma
With the generous support of Jewish Community Federations across North America and UJC Israel Emergency Campaign, JDC is helping the children of Sderot and its surrounding communities with several responses:
Chibuki (Huggy Puppy)
Young children become "mini-counselors" to a huggy puppy, allowing them to express all their own fears and anxieties by acting as if the feelings belong to the puppy. By caring for their huggy puppy, kids transfer their fears to Chibuki and are better able to cope with their anxieties.
The Chibuki program was originally developed by a team of psychologists during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 then replicated in Sderot. The program will be expanded/re-activated in all kindergartens in Ashkelon, Sderot and the surrounding area as soon as schools are re-opened.
Havens of Calm
Special rooms in schools, called Havens of Calm, are set aside as a place for children to safely express their fears and anxieties about the situation. Children are able to come to these rooms during the school day, either individually or with their entire class as a 'field trip', and work with therapists in coping with life under the threat of missiles.
Code Red Song
(for more information and lyrics, please click on the link)
At the sound of the Code Red siren, children were becoming hysterical. Often times, they were paralyzed with fear and unable to run for shelter. JDC, working with teachers in Sderot, developed the Code Red Song to not only teach the children what to do when the alarm is sounded, but to make them feel comfortable with the fear and anxiety the alarm provokes within them.
JDC distributed cds of this uplifting children’s song to parents and teachers. Currently, the song is taught to school children and has quickly become a source of comfort for them.
JDC’s programs are supported primarily by contributions to the annual campaigns of the Jewish Community Federations throughout North America in partnership with United Jewish Communities (UJC)