War still affecting psychological condition of Chechnya's children
By Ruslan Isayev
CHECHNYA - Recently the funeral of a 10-year-old boy, Suleiman Takashev, took place in Grozny’s Staropromyslovsky district, on the city’s outskirts. The boy hanged himself after losing his temper with his mother, who had told him off for taking a swim in a local lake without her permission. This incident happened on the day before June 1 - International Children's Day.
Half a year ago a similar case occurred when a 9-year old boy hanged himself from a door handle in the village of Goyty. It was established that the boy had acted under the influence of a film in which the main character takes his own life in a similar way.
Suicide is considered a major sin in Islam, and consequently many cases do not receive wide public attention. The relatives try to hide the information by every means possible, fearing disgrace.
According to specialists, the psychological condition of children in Chechnya today is close to critical. "Several factors are involved, but two basic ones can be singled out," Kheda, a female child psychologist, told Prague Watchdog.
"One is so-called post-war syndrome, when people return from a state of depression to a normal condition, and all the deprivation and suffering they have endured during the war is reflected in them and though them in their children. Because of their fragile psychological make-up, children are more vulnerable to this syndrome than others."
"The second factor is the transitional period to so-called peaceful life. The children's parents try to make up for time that was lost because of the war and put all their effort into earning money for the family. In pursuit of material goods they deprive their children of simple parental attention. The kids don't get the motherly affection they need at that early age just as much as they do oxygen," the psychologist says.
The doctor explains that the children develop an unconscious desire to draw attention to themselves by the most radical methods. Without realizing it, they are simply taking revenge on adults simply for the fact that things are not the same for them as they are for their peers.
The authorities are aware of the magnitude of the problem and are making attempts to remedy the situation, as they know that when they grow up, such children could easily be recruited to join the ranks of the armed resistance. "The only social guarantee that will work where these children are concerned is the payment of state benefits," an official government statement says.
For this reason the authorities are trying to open child rehabilitation centres. A few days ago one such centre for children and adults opened in Gudermes, and this summer another will open in Grozny, catering for 200 people.
Meanwhile, the republic contains large numbers of minors who may became "problem children". According to the latest data from the Chechen Minstry of Labour and Economic Development, Chechnya has around 1,500 orphans, nearly 20,000 semi-orphans, and more than 300,000 children from large families.