Iraqi experts have warned of the worsening psychological state of children who formerly lived under ISIS rule and were exposed to the terrorist group's brutality.
Children across various parts of Iraq have had to endure the pain of being witnesses to the most unspeakable crimes committed by ISIS. Such experiences will have long-term psychological effects on those who were exposed to the terrorist group’s barbarity and officials in the country are keen to set this issue as a political priority for the sake of Iraq’s future.
One of the most heinous crimes committed by ISIS was its involvement in recruiting children as soldiers, a practice that has been used by extremist groups in various countries. The logic behind this crime is that the young are more easily manipulated and brainwashed into committing atrocities on behalf of their puppet masters. Children are normally forcefully taken away from their families, often murdering the father to rid the household of any defence.
Remnants of the recruitment strategy used by ISIS still remain. An ISIS training camp for children was discovered in Mosul. They are kidnapped and indoctrinated in such camps where slogans and images of ISIS propaganda messages have been found. Reports recount how they were taught to behead dolls.
Measures have already been taken by local authorities and non-governmental organisations to deal with the psychological trauma that the children are carrying with them. Rehabilitation centres have propped up in both Syria and Iraq to tackle the issue. They receive consultation at these centres from professional psychologists in order to root out the violent mentality borne into their minds and to suggest coping strategies for children who live with the after-effects of witnessing ISIS brutality. In addition, other activities that involve the arts, sports and general education aim to help the children build a sense of healthy identity, self-worth and solidarity with their peers and other human beings in general.
It will take years of healing for the children to rid themselves of the psychological effects of ISIS, but if it remains a political priority and they receive the attention they need, then a solution to this issue is not so far-fetched.