How to Ensure PTSD’s Continuity

Israel used to have one of the highest quality educational institutions in the world. Sadly, that’s now long in the past, with levels of ignorance and ineptitude rising as they are in the US, complete with superstition and myth replacing scientific fact.

The Holocaust isn’t a myth, of course. As the son of two Holocaust survivors, I’ve been well and truly branded by their experiences, traumatized hearing their stories at an age where I could understand, but not defend against, the horrors visited upon my parents. It’s one of the many things that make the lives of G2 and G3 kids (second and third generation children of survivors) so… “interesting.”

Apparently that’s a good thing according to the nitwits currently infesting Israeli’s ministry of education and the Instilling Paranoid Fear Forever Department (story here). The only “age appropriate” education about the Holocaust that I can see is… none. Six year old children should be learning basic skills, enjoying recess and (IMHO) not having any internet or gaming access. Okay, well, I can’t have everything.

There’s a slightly nuts argument to be made that kids that age are exposed to violence in the media, and in games, so why not tell them that there are entire countries that killed millions of their grandparents and other relatives less than a century ago?

Because kids have a way, however sad in the context of Israel’s existence, of putting violence from the news and games into some kind of grasp. Terrorism is random, even if directly generally at Israelis. Missiles land with the dubious luck of the fin. That ability is dwarfed by the pervasive horror that one’s nameable ancestors were hunted and put to death by an entire country singularly bent on their personal destruction.

Sure, there are swathes of the Arab countries around Israel that have that on their to-do list, after oppression of internal elements, subjugation of women and generally killing all those who stand in their way. (At least, that’s the portrayal: most families, asked on their own, would much rather live in safety, health and food security rather than die in a formless Jihad. And yes, there are exceptions, but are all Jews Fagins? Merchants of Venice? Sheldon Adelsons?)

But these are issue that pervade Israeli society on a daily basis. Yes, they cause stress to kids and sure, PTSD his higher in populations living under these conditions. But why inculcate this into children almost too young to read? To what end? They’ll learn about it, at home or in the world, within a few years. And they should learn about it, in school, in a structured way. But give them a few years of innocence. Let them learn that fear, the anger and the resultant defiance or hate when they have a few more emotional tools to handle it. They’ll never forget it. Or not learn it.

Let’s let children be happy an innocent for as long as possible before tattooing them with the past agonies and future dangers of their people.