Impacts on Early Emotional Development


The area that I chose to do is Central and West Africa. I chose this area because I was not familiar with it and I wanted to learn more about this particular region. In reading about this region I have learned that many children here are involved in suicide attacks and have been separated from their families. This region is facing so many deficits and harsh times especially the children because they are experiencing at early ages the sight of death,
violence and sexual violence. Children should be able to live their lives as children and not have to worry about living in fear or killing themselves while on a mission to kill others. This is just a sad case that should not have to be brought forth with children on the front line.

In Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger children are being used as suicide bombers. “The
number of children involved in ‘suicide’ attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger has risen sharply over the past year, from 4 in2014 to 44 in 2015, according to UNICEF data
released today” (UNICEF, 2011). Thepeople of Nigeria was attacked and some were killed by a group that is known as Boko Haram. This group set many people homes on fire and caused so many children and families to be separated from one another for a period of time. Some of the residents barely escaped while others were left behind to die at the hands of Boko Haram.  Children are seen as threats and used as suicide bombers at the hands of this violent group Boko Haram. Children were coerced into this violence and not knowing what they were up against. “Deceiving children and forcing them to carry out deadly acts has been one of the most horrific aspects of the violence in Nigeria and in neighbouring countries” (UNICEF, 2011). The children were robbed of an education. Because of the acts of Boko Haram, they have “forced over 700,000 children out of school across Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad” (UNICEF, 2011). The women and girls are being kidnapped, raped and engaged in sexual violence and causing them to become pregnant and the child born of that hateful act will “…also encounter stigma and discrimination in their villages” (UNICEF, 2011). No child asked to be signed up for what these children have experienced at such early ages. They deserve to live as a child and not have to worry about death.

Many children witnessing violence and death may hold their feelings on the inside, which then leads to mental illness.  UNICEF child protection specialist believes “It can lead to a vicious cycle of violence on the part of those who harbor such feelings, especially children” (UNICEF, 2011). Because children are used as suicide bombers many people fear for their lives. “As ‘suicide’ attacks involving children become commonplace, some communities are starting to see children as threats to their safety…This suspicion towards children can have destructive consequences” (UNICEF, 2011). Even though children have been through o many traumatic events in their lives, there is help to help them cope with what they have been through. UNICEF along with other supporters”… provides safe water and life-saving health services; helps to restore access to education by creating temporary learning spaces; and delivers therapeutic treatment to malnourished children. UNICEF also provides psychosocial support to children to help them cope with emotional distress” (UNICEF, 2011).

I can only imagine what these children and families are going through in experiencing children suicide bombers, rape, displacement, abduction, separation, maimed, and being killed. As a human being after reading and learning about what is going over there makes me sad and my heart ache because no one should have to experience this type of violence at such a young age. As an early childhood educator, it is important for to learn about the challenges young children face on a daily basis and how they can bring with them positive and negative experiences.  It is up to us as early childhood educators to create a safe,
secure, welcoming, warm, and comfortable environment for all children to learn, grow, and play. It is our job and responsibility to ensure that we help children appreciate their family and culture no matter where they come from (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010). Family is all that we have and sometimes we go through a lot of traumatic events but in the end family is there for one another. Not only do we support the child as an educator but we also support the family. Families that encounter or experience traumatic events
should be provided with resources that can help them and their children with the emotional distress that they have been subjected to, provided by early childhood educator.


Derman-Sparks, L., & Edwards, J.O. (2010).  Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children

UNICEF (2011). Retrieved from:


3 thoughts on “Impacts on Early Emotional Development

  1. Dionna,
    Thank you for sharing your insights on Central and West Africa. I cannot believe that the Boko Haram has forced 700,000 children out of their schools. These children have had their childhoods taken away. I’m sure this will have a lasting impact in these communities. Your report of sexual abuse occurring to women and young girls is despicable. The ostracizing that occurs to the children born from this violence is disgraceful. Making children pay for the crimes of their fathers is wrong. Does UNICEF have a plan to combat this problem?


  2. Hello Dionna, I enjoyed reading your blog and you provided a lot of helpful information that I had no clue about. My heart goes out to the children and their families. We never know why children misbehave the way they do but being separated from your families is a hard thing to accept.


  3. Dionna, I enjoyed reading your post. You shared a lot of information about Central and West Africa. I like the countries you chose to write about. It saddens me to hear about young children killing people or even being used as suicide missions. Just recently I was looking at the news and they were discussing Boko Haram. I could not believe that little girls were being kidnapped, taken from their homes. I wonder if and when anything could be done about the damaging situations that the children and adults (women) have to endure.


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