SINCE WAR began in the Persian Gulf, kids have had a lot of questions . . . and a lot of worries, too. School counselors in Baltimore County say some students have had trouble sleeping. Others have mentioned bad dreams coming from their fears about war.
Although you may not have felt anxious when the U.S. sent troops to Panama two years ago, this war has required a lot more from the nation. The government has sent almost half a million Americans to Saudi Arabia. A lot of kids -- almost a third of the students in some local schools -- have relatives or friends involved in the Persian Gulf conflict. That quickly adds up to a lot of scared people.
The amount of time television spends on the war can make it seem more scary, too. Every day and every night, TV runs pictures of the war. Sometimes the reporters talk while bombs are actually falling. Although grown-ups get afraid for the people overseas, little kids often believe that bombs are going to fall right on them and their families. It's important to remind your little brothers and sisters that Saudi Arabia is very, very far away and that the missiles on TV aren't aimed at America.
It is easy for anyone watching TV reports of the war to feel confused about what's going on. Sometimes reporters get wrong information that they need to correct later on. Sometimes you may see captured American servicemen saying things they might not want to say if they were free.
And the way news about the war is played on TV often makes it seem like a movie. Some kids have gotten pretty depressed realizing that real people are getting killed.
Another confusing thing: Not everyone believes America should be fighting this war. There have been many TV, radio and newspaper stories about those who think the war should end now -- right now -- even if it means Iraq still occupies Kuwait.
Remember that Americans are allowed to express different opinions. If some of your friends are against the war, it does not mean they are against the men and women who are fighting it.
Most important, if you're feeling worried about the war, talk to your parents, teachers and other grown-ups you feel close to. You should also look for ways to help your friends or family members who may be feeling scared about the war and need to talk about it. Some of the signs of being scared are having trouble sleeping and having bad dreams. Some kids become irritable or agitated or cry for no good reason. Others may also become overly afraid that they will be left alone.