Sunday Times

Crime overload sparks ‘crisis’ of anxiety-ridden SA children

- SUBASHNI NAIDOO

SOUTH African children “bombarded” daily by crime stories are having to seek treatment for anxiety.

As many as one in four middle-class children — some as young as three — face emotional problems, partly as a result of overexposu­re to crime and violence.

At one private Johannesbu­rg clinic there is a two-month waiting list for children needing help.

“The problem is huge, it’s out of control. It’s like a pandemic,” said child therapist Orli Zaacks, who treats up to 15 children a day at the Anxiety and Trauma Clinic.

“Children are bombarded with crime stories daily and this is pushing them over the edge. There is violence everywhere and this has instilled fear into poor little kids.

“Parents unknowingl­y are also projecting their fears onto their kids through their own safety concerns.”

Clinical psychologi­st Dr Colinda Linde warned that parents should not overload their children with too much “doom and gloom”.

“Children observe what we do more than what we say. Parents need to model a realistic way of dealing with trauma rather than showing children that they are overwhelme­d,” said Linde.

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