The Children of 9/11: Eight Years Later
Eight years after the September 11 attack at the World Trade Center, the children of 9/11 are still hurting but the feelings of sympathy seem to be waning.
- Almost 3,000 children under the age of 18 lost a parent during the 9/11 attack.
- The average age of the orphaned 9/11 children is 9 years; some were still in the womb when their father died at the attacks, either as victims on the ground and on the planes or as rescuers.
- The ratio of men to women among who died was 3:1, leaving a lot of fatherless children.
- 8 children died during the attacks, mostly as airline passengers
After the attack, several non-profit groups and charity organizations opened their arms to these children, offering the following support:
- Special camps
- Music and art therapy
The 9/11 fatigue
Years later, the children of 9/11 are growing up – and are slowly being forgotten. According to those support groups and organizations, the so-called “9/11 fatigue” has set in. Funding for projects is drying up. Due to the economic crisis, sponsors and donors are cutting down on charity donations as part of austerity measures. Even on the familial level, friends and relatives are also getting tired of helping out, thinking that the 9/11 children should move forward and get on with their lives. But the question is: can they?
The Ongoing Problems
A study by researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York showed that children who lost loved ones during the 2001 attacks have double the rate of psychiatric disorders than those who were not affected. The researchers followed up forty five 9/11 children for over two years and found the following:
- More than half had some kind of anxiety disorder
- A third exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
- 27% showed separation anxiety
- 14% had a major depressive disorder, a rate which is 3 times more than those not affected.
Other observations from the support groups are:
- Boys are particular affected, grieving silently.
- Many children are only just opening up and starting to express their grief.
It goes without saying that now is not the time to abandon them. Eight years is a long time for some people. For many of these kids, it’s a whole lifetime. Losing a parent is hard enough. Losing a parent in such a violent manner, with maximum media coverage is the worst thing for a child to go through. For the 9/11 children, getting on with their lives is not a simple thing.
The support group Tuesday’s Children was set up in 2001 immediately after the attack. It was set up by family and friends of 9/11 victims “with the long term commitment to safeguard the health, happiness and future of both individual and family.” During the last 8 years, the group has extended to support to more than 5,000 family members.
Project Common Bond
The psychiatric problems mentioned above have been observed not only in 9/11 children but in children from other parts of the world whose lives have been touched by terrorism. The terrorist attacks in London, Madrid, India, Kenya, and Indonesia, just to name a few. Thus, Tuesday’s Children established the Project Common Bond, the organization’s International Community for Children Impacted by Terrorism. It organizes global youth leadership camps for young people from all over the world aged 14 to 18. With the motto “Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief”, Tuesday’s Children hopes to help these children to find healing and peace.
Like other support organizations, Tuesday’s Children is also feeling the pinch. It has teamed up with the NY Road Runners for the ING NYC Marathon. You can also give a tax-deductible donation to the group.