According to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), nearly 87 million children around the world under 7 years of age have been growing up in conflict zones.
The trauma of war and its resulting violence, the impressions of death and destruction, not to mention the uncertainty and constant fear may unnerve the strongest of adults — but the effects on young children are more dire and tragic than can be imagined.
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Extreme trauma puts children at risk of living in a state of toxic stress, inhibiting brain cell connections, with lifelong consequences to their cognitive, social and physical development.
"In addition to the immediate physical threats that children in crises face, they are also at risk of deep-rooted emotional scars," Pia Britto, UNICEF chief of early child development, said in a statement.
"Conflict robs children of their safety, family and friends, play and routine.
"Yet these are all elements of childhood that give children the best possible chance of developing fully and learning effectively, enabling them to contribute to their economies and societies, and building strong and safe communities when they reach adulthood."