The Life of a Syrian Teenager
What is it like to be a Syrian teenager right now?
What is happening in Syria?
This is not their conflict, yet children are the ones to suffer. Their families are being torn apart; they are traumatized by what they have seen; some of them have been out of school for years; they feel alienated and out of place living in refugee camps or host communities; many are working on farms or selling tea on the streets to help their families make ends meet. A sense of normality is lost.
Why Syrians are fleeing their homes:
- Violence: Since the Syrian civil war began, 320,000 people have been killed, including nearly 12,000 children. About 1.5 million people have been wounded or permanently. The war has become more deadly since foreign powers joined to conflict.
- Collapsed infrastructure: Within Syria, healthcare, education systems, and other infrastructure have been destroyed. The economy is shattered.
- Children's safety: Syrian children are the nation's hope for a better future. They have lost loved ones, suffered from injuries, missed years of schooling, and witnessed violence and brutality. Warring parties forcibly recruit children to serve as fighters, human shields, and in support roles.
Surveying Syrian Teens:
Syrian teens do very little apart from school. Only about 20% go out in the evening, usually boys. Girls almost never leave the house unaccompanied (at least, not to see friends). Most teens are keen on doing something extra-curricular but said it wasn't safe enough. If they leave the house it can bring great danger. This includes being hit by cross-fire, or being stopped at one of the check-points which spring up overnight. So although these things may happen, one interviewer said that they do not engage in political discussions or social movements. Only a handful showed interest in these things.
Though school is regarded by everyone as an absolute priority (many rank it above health), it is uncertain. A quarter of the schools in Syria have been destroyed, according to UNICEF. Pupils and teachers alike struggle to make it to schools that have survived. Of the 98 teens studying at the moment, all but five report that their studies are 'under threat' of ending. About a fifth had to drop out to support their families. This support can be working or just caring for others.
Just under half the teens have had to go to a hospital in the past year, usually from injuries or being sick, but if the war keeps continuing there will hardly be any hospitals available. When teens do get to engage in extra-curricular activities, learning first aid is usually at the top of the list. Some parents also said that teens were climbing out their windows to go out at night, and this is said to be very dangerous which is seen as a death-wish rather than a normal act of adolescents rebellion. Really traumatized adolescents lose sense of the risks, but of those teens that are really troubled, joining the the fighting is probably not the worst. About 30% of the interviewees said they fall into lawbreaking rebellious and depressions; 20% mentioned armed groups, and about 10% mentioned drugs. So without these nearby hospitals the population can quickly decrease due to these tragedies.
How do Americans teens have it so easy compared to Syrian teens?
How Syrian teens describe their lives:
Many teens said that before the civil wars in Syria they also had everything they wanted just like American teens. One of the Syrian teens said, "My life in Syria was really very nice, very beautiful", but that all changed once the wars started. To read more about what teens truly have to say about their everyday life, click on one of the links below.
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