Six months after terrorist attacks, children worry about personal safety, flying Sept. 11 prompts kids' questions

Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2002

Six months after Sept. 11, many children across the country are still dealing with the aftermath.

Experts say children's responses to trauma often come through their actions, not words. But some do talk about their concerns and ask questions.

Answers to some of those questions follow, based on the responses of such experts as Fern Reiss, author of ''Terrorism and Kids: Comforting Your Child''; Gilda Carle, a therapist and author based in Yonkers, N.Y., who deals with youth issues; and Joshua Spero, a visiting assistant professor of political science at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., who was an adviser to former President Clinton's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Other information comes from attacks-related news reports by The Associated Press and from figures gathered by the Alliance for Downtown New York.

From Jack Scordato, age 9, New York City. Jack is a fourth-grader who lives just blocks from the former World Trade Center site and only recently was able to return to his elementary school, P.S. 234.

Q: ''How many residents near the World Trade Center are still displaced? How many residents have decided to never return?''

A: When it comes to counting displaced residents, the best answer anyone seems to have is ''thousands.'' The Salvation Army of Greater New York, for example, has helped about 12,000 families directly affected by the attacks -- including those who were displaced, or who had family members who worked at or near ground zero. Many people have returned to their homes. But hundreds -- if not thousands -- are in disputes with their landlords, trying to break their leases because they no longer want to live so close to the World Trade Center site.

At least one organization estimates that 100,000 of the 370,000 jobs that were once in downtown Manhattan have been lost entirely or moved elsewhere.

Construction work and rubble recovery at ground zero is continuing round the clock. A temporary cable is supplying electricity to homes and businesses. Taxis are running through the area again. Restaurants and stores are reopening and getting busier, especially with the steady flow of tourists arriving to pay their respects to those who died.

From Brittany Wesley, age 11, Houston. Brittany is a fifth-grader at Adam Elementary School.

Q: ''I want to go to away for spring break, but I'm worried about flying. Can you tell me if airport security is equipped to prevent another attack? Is the airport really safe?''

A: A lot of people are asking that question. Surveys show that even many adults still fear flying.

Truth is, no system is perfect. But airports and airlines have taken steps since Sept. 11 to increase security, including more thorough checks for explosives in checked baggage.

Because of a new law passed by Congress, people who screen baggage will now be employed by the federal government (rather than the airlines). And they'll be paid more -- a move that officials hope will help them attract and keep luggage-screeners who will do the best job possible.

Still, if you have fears about flying, you should talk them through with your parents or an adult you trust.

From Wil Caruso, age 9, Roswell, Ga. Wil is a fourth-grader at High Meadows School.

Q: ''Is Osama bin Laden dead or alive? Why is he mad at Americans about Israel?''

A: U.S. government officials say they don't know if suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is alive or dead -- but their search is continuing. Some speculate that he may be hiding in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

Bin Laden appears to be mad at Americans about Israel because of a belief, particularly among Palestinians and other Arabs, that America favors Israel's political positions over the Palestinian cause. The two sides are fighting for control of parts of their violence-torn region.

Bin Laden first mentioned the issue -- and made it a cause for his Islamic extremist movement -- when his group was linked to the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 231 people.

From Elizabeth McCrory, age 8, West Branch, Iowa. Elizabeth is a third-grader at Hoover Elementary School.

Q: ''Why did those people kill that reporter (Daniel Pearl of The Wall Street Journal)?''

A: That's a really difficult question to answer. The kidnappers were demanding the release of prisoners taken in Afghanistan who are now being held at a U.S. base in Cuba. That did not happen, in part because the American government did not want to negotiate with suspected terrorists.

Experts who help kids cope say they know it can be difficult to feel safe when you hear about events like these. Indeed, the reporter's death was awfully sad. But the experts remind you that most people in the world are good. Only a few people, such as the kidnappers, are really bad.

From Sophia Trapani, age 7, Westminster, Md. Sophia is a second-grader at St. John School.

Q: ''Will we be safe?''

A: It's understandable that feeling safe is a big issue these days, even months after Sept. 11. Safety is on the minds of many people, both kids and adults. A good number of adults are still afraid to fly. And security everywhere from airports to the recent Winter Olympics has been extremely tight.

This is a really good issue to discuss with your parents and other adults you trust -- other relatives, teachers, pastors, etc. It's a big part of their job to keep you safe. Ask them for reassurance any time you need it; holding any fearful feelings inside won't do you much good. Also, remember that the chances that you'll be safe are much greater than anything bad happening.



CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS