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Since 1st March, 1999
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Scare scars young minds

Madhuja Dasgupta, 7: Ma, what is a terrorist?

Madhusree Dasgupta: A terrorist is a bad man.

Children have added words of violence to their vocabulary and parents are struggling to go beyond Satyajit Ray’s “dushtu lok” definition in Sonar Kella.

“We were all glued to the TV and poring over the papers during the siege of Mumbai, not realising what effect it was having on our five-year-old son Varun. We were at a loss when he started asking us about terrorism and AK-47,” said Sandeep and Rita Mohta.

The Dasguptas and the Mohtas are among many parents finding it hard to cope with the terror talk that has invaded their homes.

“Seeing such violence unfold on television is bound to have a negative reaction among children. It generates a fearful response and leads to anxiety,” said psychologist Nilanjana Sanyal.

The “fearful response” is bound to be more pronounced among children who are more timid by nature but there is also the danger of aggressive youngsters starting to identify with the terrorists. “The idea of a terrorist has a sense of power attached to it that might appeal to them and become an outlet for their natural aggression,” warns Sanyal.

Parents have to be more careful about conversations at home and they must start regulating what the child watches on television or reads in the papers, suggest psychologists.

Even if parents make homes terror-talk-free, the security beef-up in schools and the checking of bags and beeping of metal detectors at malls and multiplexes are leaving a scar on young minds.

“Schools have CCTVs and security personnel, and every time we walk into a mall my purse is checked. My daughter is confused and scared, as if something horrible is about to happen,” said Poushali Mittal, mother of seven-year-old Vandita Mittal. “She pleaded with me not to go to work on Saturday; she said bombs would explode in crowded places.”

The trauma of terror was also evident among tweens and teens on the first day of Dabur Babool The Great TTIS Challenge Carnival. The subject of most plays performed by students on the Swabhumi stage was terrorism.

If Calcutta Boys School explored the mind and the making of a terrorist and Don Bosco Park Circus let loose the dogs of war, Shree Daulatram Nopany Vidyalaya injected some humour into the proceedings with an unidentified bag.

“Security concern is uppermost on everyone’s mind,” said Harsna Rudani, a student of Class XI at Auxilium Convent, Dum Dum.

“But the Carnival is a good opportunity to move on. We can’t let the terrorists win by being depressed and scared,” said Dhruv Shah, a student of Class XI from La Martiniere for Boys.

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