AMMAN, JORDAN—In camps for internally displaced persons and in the war-torn towns and villages of western Iraq, there is one legacy of the so-called Islamic State’s brutal reign whose magnitude experts and authorities are only beginning to understand: traumatized children.
From the stateless children of ISIS members, to child soldiers and the tens of thousands indoctrinated in ISIS schools, a generation of young Iraqis has been traumatized and radicalized by the nihilistic jihadist group. They are at war with themselves and their own community.
In the words of one trauma specialist, many of these children have, as a result, lost their “trust in humans and humanity.”
Unless authorities and the international community work to help reintegrate these children into society, including by providing counseling and psychiatric care, experts warn that Iraq and Syria will face a generational “time-bomb” of extremism, deliberately planted by ISIS, that could one day again threaten regional stability.
Experts warn, too, of a lack of trained mental health professionals to deal directly with the children’s emotional wounds, but they hold out hope for one solution that may be more within reach: If enough teachers can be found, getting the kids back in a school environment could create the stability needed for some healing.