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Trauma fears for Japan's young disaster victims

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Trauma fears for Japan's young disaster victims


What they have been through is unimaginable.

Japan’s disasters have robbed many children of everything – their homes, family and friends. And while young survivors’ immediate needs are a priority, the fear is they could face long-term psychological trauma.

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“Yes, many children as they grow up are going to live with the consequence of the shock of this devastation,” said Hironobu Shibuya, Chief Executive Officer at Save the Children, Japan.

Tests for radioactive contamination may well prove clear but the simple fact they lived near the stricken nuclear plant could be held against them.

“People from Fukushima, especially kids, may face discrimination, just because they are from the region,” said Dr Keiko Yamada at a clinic in the city of Yonezawa.

Around 100,000 children have been displaced by the earthquake and tsunami, according to the Save the Children charity. It says stability and protection are needed to safeguard their physical and emotional well-being.

In Yonezawa, a four-year-old evacuee from Fukushima explained what she experienced:

“The glass in my house was shattered and my friend’s house was damaged and my grandmother’s house, too,” she said.

From problems sleeping to aggression or withdrawal, the symptoms of trauma are varied. As time passes and the world’s attention shifts from Japan, the hope is that its children won’t be forgotten.

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