The New York Times

For Refugee Children, Reading Helps Heal Trauma

PSYCHOLOGISTS FIND THAT STORY TIME CAN BUILD THE STRONG RELATIONSHIPS THEY NEED FOR HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT.

As the war in Syria has uprooted lives by the millions, humanitarian organizations have worked to supply food, shelter and medical relief. These services are a lifeline for millions, and it’s a herculean task to fulfill them on the scale that refugee crises demand. But humanitarian workers are also now doing more to address the mental and emotional health of refugees, particularly children.

It’s a need that until recently has been largely overlooked. Research reveals that the traumatic experiences of many refugees can affect their health in wide-ranging ways that can last a lifetime — social anxiety, depression, addiction, cardiovascular disease and more. Children and youth are most vulnerable. A mounting body of evidence demonstrates that repeated traumatic events early in life, if unbuffered by adults who can restore a child’s sense of calm, interfere with healthy brain development. This physiological response is known as “toxic stress.”

But the damage is not irreparable if treated

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