A study conducted among school going children of 11 to 15 years in rural Busoga has revealed that children are psychologically affected and traumatized by the prevailing covid-19 pandemic.
Titled ‘Children’s Tales: The reality of covid-19 Related Trauma on School Children in Rural Busoga’, the study was conducted between July and August 2020 by a team of researchers from Makerere University.
The researchers noted that whereas 3.11% and 22.73% of the respondents reported little or no mild trauma signs, 46.17% and 27.99% reported moderate and severe trauma signs respectively.
During the findings dissemination on Monday at Makerere University, Richard Balikoowa, the Principal Investigator revealed that children faced major challenges in relation to the covid-19 situation, information on covid-19 itself and the set preventive measures.
He also noted that both boys and girls were affected the same way.
“Children in classes like P.5, P.6 and P.7 were disappointed with the indefinite closure of their schools without any streamlined guidance on what they can do and when they can do it. Children also expressed worry on the way information is provided, as they are not considered in the dissemination of information on covid-19 as a virus and how it is prevented,” Balikoowa explained.
The other aspect of children’s worry, he noted, is related to their spiritual world, the social cultural ways and the ways in which the preventive measures are implemented.
“For instance, they pointed out the highhandedness of the personnel who enforce the preventive measures against the people. They also expressed worry that when schools open, their body sizes might not ‘match’ their classes after the long break,” he said.
“We also realised that if these children are not helped in time, we are likely to have a generation that will only be an exhibit of trauma and post traumatic stress disorder. We concluded that there is likelihood of the next generation showing signs of behavioural disfunction due to trauma they are experiencing now,” Balikoowa said.
Balikoowa said that reopening of schools will be of great help to the children since their behavior can be assessed in such a much more controlled environment.
“Opening or not opening schools does not make a significant impact, but its better to open schools to provide a controlled environment through which these young people can be helped because evidence shows that in their communities, managing these children is so difficult for the guardians, who are also confused by the same covid-19 situation,” he said.
Researchers also recommended that information on covid-19 should be tailored for children and that children should receive guidance and counseling in their communities or schools to reduce or avert the likely serious psychological effects like peri-traumatic and pre-traumatic stress disorders and pathological aggression.
The research was funded by the government of Uganda through Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund.