As children become “collateral damage”-- or
direct targets—in conflict zones worldwide, nation’s pediatricians call
for greater awareness and protections as new policy is announced during 2018
FLA – Children are killed and injured in armed conflicts across the
world every day, and yet their numbers often go uncounted -- and their
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), seeking
to raise awareness of the immediate and long-term harm done to children
affected by violent conflict and war, will present its first policy
statement on the topic, "The Effects of Armed Conflict on Children," during its 2018 National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla.
The policy statement and accompanying technical report will be published in the December 2018 issue of Pediatrics, and available online Monday, Nov. 5.
news conference is scheduled Monday, Nov. 5, featuring one of the
authors of the reports, Jeffrey Goldhagen, MD, MPH, FAAP. Julie Linton,
MD, FAAP, also will address the ongoing crisis in which immigrant
children are being held in U.S. detention facilities and separated from
"Children today are not only considered collateral
damage in some war zones, they are being targeted by attackers,
exploited and recruited to participate in the conflict," Dr. Goldhagen
said. "The impact of armed conflict on children is among the most
critical health issues affecting children worldwide. We must advocate
for children in conflicts that, for many of them, started long before
they were born."
The AAP recognizes children of all ages,
including preschool children, suffer both direct and indirect effects of
armed conflict, which is defined as any organized dispute that involves
the use of weapons, violence, or force. Armed conflict is considered
both a toxic stress and a significant determinant of child health.
"The effects of armed conflict on child health and well-being are among the greatest child rights violations of the 21st
century," said Ayesha Kadir, MD, MSc, FAAP, a lead author. "Yet we have
a very limited understanding of the scale of the problem, what it means
for children in the medium and long term, or how we can protect them
and promote their health. We need to prioritize children and their
families in research, and to collaborate across sectors to identify how
to best help children and families not only during the period of
exposure to armed conflict or war, but also in the years afterward."
exposed to armed conflict, whether directly or indirectly, suffer high
rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and other
mental health problems. Notably, children of deployed U.S. military
personnel have higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems, and
substance abuse, than the general population. Yet, the AAP states that
children are resilient, and recommends that children be allowed to
advocate on their own behalf in the creation of policies and programs
that help heal themselves and their communities.
"We want to
avoid seeing children as helpless victims but recognize the trauma
children and their families have experienced," said Sherry Shenoda, MD,
FAAP, a lead author. "Physicians can also help children by easing the
strain on their parents, whether that means referring them to mental
health services or pointing out a local food bank."
The AAP also recommends that:
professionals should collaborate with local refugee resettlement
groups, schools, and other community organizations to help provide
medical care, legal representation and other needs for the families'
integration into the community.
Children affected by
armed conflict, including those who have been displaced or formerly
associated with armed groups or armed forces, should be protected from
all forms of torture and deprivation of liberty.
fleeing from armed conflict should be allowed to petition for asylum
and should be screened for evidence of human trafficking.
Children of all ages affected by conflict should have access to educational opportunities in a safe and nurturing environment.
Children should not be separated from their families during displacement and resettlement.
and all who are concerned about children's health and wellbeing must
mobilize to address this global issue," Dr. Goldhagen said. "Children
must be counted."
For a copy of the policy statement or technical report, or an interview, contact AAP Public Affairs.
Additional resources include:
Detention of Immigrant Children
# # #
American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric
surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of
infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For frequent updates on
AAP recommendations, Pediatrics studies, AAP in the news, public
awareness campaigns, information for parents and more, follow us on
Twitter at http://twitter.com/AmerAcadPeds