War on TV Affects Students of Deployed Parents, Parents, Teachers
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 31, 2003 Many children may not understand the principles and politics behind America's war with Iraq or the war on terrorism, but nonetheless they see images and hear news in the media.
The frightening images of war being brought daily to homes throughout America can be disturbing enough for adults, but they're even more so for children, especially those whose parents are deployed, said Joseph Tafoya, director of the Department of Defense Education Activity.
There are more than 106,000 children attending DoDEA schools throughout the United States and overseas. Many of their parents are supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Some of the scenes we're seeing are hard for us as adults to understand," Tafoya said. "If an adult has difficulty understanding the ramifications of this, or why this is happening or why this is occurring, you can imagine that a younger child is going to be inundated. It's going to heighten their concerns."
Those concerns, he said, are why parents should be aware of what their children watch on the news and should talk with them about what they've learned.
"As a parent, you should want to know what your child is watching and be able to address those issues honestly with your child at home," he said. "Some of the things you see on television are not fit for young children, so you need to understand what they're hearing on the radio, watching on TV or observing online and have an honest discussion about those issues."
Tafoya said that DoDEA has not directed its teachers to do anything different within the education system, but he said that teachers are always encouraged to get to know their students well and to look out for those who exhibit signs of stress or loneliness.
"If they need to just talk to someone, then someone needs to be there to just listen to them or just reassure them that they are cared for and that they are safe," he said. "Teachers who see behavior that is not normal with their students need to be sensitive and work with them and try to be understanding."
Because current U.S. affairs have meant increased deployments, Tafoya said that DoDEA teachers, counselors and staff are there to help students, before, during and after deployments.
"Just because a war is over doesn't mean it's over, and just because a parent comes back doesn't mean everything is going to be great," he said. "When a parent is gone for six months to a year, household routines have changed. The child may still have concerns."
Information to help parents, teachers and children deal with deployment-related issues is available on the DoDEA Web site at www.odedodea.edu.