The VigilanceVoice

Wednesday-- May 8, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 239

How To Make Your Child A Child Of Vigilance--A 13% Factor Child!
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 8--I love facts.  They indemnify reality, or, twist it to their author's viewpoint.   But, no matter what, they take opinion and harden it.
        Terrorism in children was recently embossed with facts.
        The New York City Board of Education recently conducted a mental-health survey of 8,000 children in 94 schools around the New York City area during February and March, the most exhaustive study ever conducted on children to measure the results of terrorism on children.  The survey was approved by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga.
         The report revealed that 87% of city public-school students were feeling psychologically terrorized six months after the World Trade Center attack.
         Some of the data included:  76% often think about the WTC event; 45% tries not to think/hear/talk about it; 25% said it was harder to concentrate; 24% had problems sleeping; 18% stopped going places/doing things that reminded them of the disaster; 17% had nightmares; 16% tried to avoid people who reminded them of the disaster; 16% stopped thinking about the future and 87% reported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
        In rating the number of NYC public school students with specific mental health problems as a result of Nine Eleven, the statistics were projected over the school population from grades 4-12 and revealed:  107,395 (15%) suffered from agoraphobia (fear of being outside); 88,064 (12.3%) had separation anxiety; 78,040 (10.9%)  conduct was affected; 75,176 (10.5%) had PTSD; 73,744 (10.3%) were afflicted by generalized anxiety; 66,585 (9.3%) were victims of panic attacks; and 60,141 (8.4%)  showed signs of major depression.
        There were two very startling statistics that caught my attention out of the litany of facts.  One was that the younger the child, the more prone he or she was to PTSD.   The increased chance of having post traumatic stress symptoms was 400% higher among younger than older students.
        The other piece of data was that 13% of the students had no trauma after the event, or at least the survey didn't reveal any.   While nearly 9 out of 10 students felt some deep psychological impact over the events they witnessed on September 11, 2001, one out of ten indicated they were immune to the Terrorists' emotionally shattering after effects.
       I would like to think that those students who didn't reveal in the survey they were "suffering trauma" as a result of the horrible events lived in homes where their parents practiced the principles of Parents Of Vigilance.
      I have no scientific data for this assumption, so please don't think I'm playing with numbers.  This is just a hope, a presumption to explain the phenomena of 13% of the children not reporting any psychological fallout from Terrorism.
      Statisticians may consider the 13% an anomaly, representing the flux in the data base.    Assuming some children may have not reported their "true feelings," it seems hard to imagine that there weren't a substantial number of those in the 13% category who indeed had processed the event with the help of their parents or loved ones to such an extent that they were not shackled by Terrorism's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency as were the other 87% of fellow students who claimed they were, in some way or another, "psychologically terrorized" by the events of Nine Eleven.
      If there is scientific justification for becoming a Parent of Vigilance, I point to the 13% Factor--those children who were protected by some force, some knowledge, some rational understanding of the events that kept them from proclaiming on the test they were "victims of terrorism."  
      It makes good sense to assume that some children and parents have developed a deep communication with one another such that they can embrace one another's Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies in a manner that results in neutralizing them.   To do this requires Courage, Conviction and Action, the elements of Vigilance.   Parents who communicate at deep emotional levels with their children understand the need a child has to put the tragedy and suffering of the event in a proper perspective, a healthy one, so that its shock waves don't create lingering horror, or residual suffering as indicated in 87% of the students surveyed.
      The other fact that leapt out at me about the mental healthy survey was the 400% vulnerability to PTSD among younger students.    Terrorism, according to this piece of information, feeds off the youngest, the most vulnerable, the most helpless.  Like the wolves who stalk the flock of sheep, Terrorism waits for one of the lambs to wander away and then attacks.
      The data also suggests the younger a child is, the more necessary it is for the parents or guardians of that child to build defenses against Emotional Terrorism.  If the age of a child is inversely proportional to the impact of psychological trauma, then it is the duty of the parent to start building the Shield of Vigilance immediately with a child.    If Fear, Intimidation and Complacency drool over the vulnerability of younger children, the shepherd of that child should be alerted by these facts not to wait to teach the child acts of Courage, acts of Conviction and Action to defend itself against Terrorism's insidious fallout.
      This means the door to emotional communication must be swung wide from conception forward.   A Parent of Vigilance who fully understands the importance of raising a child must realize this increased vulnerability, and start from the first day forward in the child's life creating around the child an emotional bridge that makes him or her able to communicate the smallest Fears, the most negligible tidbits of Intimidation, and the slightest signs of Complacency in his or her psychological well-being.
      To do this the Parent of Vigilance must be in touch with his or her own Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies.  To recognize their counterparts in a child, a Parent of Vigilance must first be able to see them in his or her own self.
     One way is to develop a list of one's own Fears.   Simply take a paper and pencil and begin writing down the answer to the following question:  "I am afraid of ________."  The simplest categories are Fear of People, Fear of Places, Fear of Things.
     After completing the list of fears, take another piece of paper and list:  "I am Intimidated by_______," and list down those people, places and things that make you feel "less than" or not as "good as," or in "competition with."
     Finally, take one more sheet and list your Complacencies.   "I am Complacent about_____," and now complete the list.   Complacent about losing weight, Complacent about saving money, Complacent about standing up for myself, Complacent about communicating my feelings."
     This is not a "self-worthlessness" list.   This is a list of truths as you see them.   But they are merely "goblin truths," little soldiers of Terrorism who march within us all in the shadows of our mind.   Fear is nothing more than the acronym of:  False-Evidence-Appearing-Real.  Once you write down your Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies, you have speared those hidden Terrorists with the tip of your pencil.  You have shined the Light of Vigilance upon them.  They are exposed.
      Creating such a list is an act of Courage, Conviction and Action.   You have the courage to face your internal "Terrorists," and the Conviction to not shy from being honest about them, and you have taken Action to expose them from within.    Do not consider such a list a compendium of your flaws or weaknesses as a person, or in any way a series of faults about your character.   Such a list is not an example of human weakness, but rather human strength.  For the first step in eliminating our flaws is to recognize them.  By exposing them to the paper you have in a sense squashed them as you would a poisonous bug crawling toward your helpless, unprotected child.  You have acted Vigilantly, Courageously by exposing the hidden flaws.   Many of your Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies will kick and scream as you write them down.  Some will not want to be exposed.  You will feel the pressure they exert upon you as your hand trembles and you force yourself to write them down, for some have wrapped their roots so deeply around the inner parts of your being that you will feel as though some force is fighting you to not expose them, not recognize them.
      But if you are diligent and Vigilant, you will fight the urges to "overlook" this Fear, this Intimidation or that Complacency, and wipe clean the slate of Terrorists within--at least, for that particular moment.  More such Terrorisms will grow inside you, for their existence is as much a part of life as Osama bin Laden.   But you will have made the first giant step toward freeing yourself of their grip.
     Now, you are in a position to share your Fears, your Intimidations and your Complacencies with your child or children.   Your courage to select those appropriate fears with your child will begin constructing the Bridge of Vigilance over which your child will be feel free to share with you his or her Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies.
     Consider it a game.   "I'll tell you one of my fears if you tell me one of yours."   "I'll tell you one of my Intimidations if you tell me one of yours."  "I'll tell you one of my Complacencies if you tell me one of yours."
     If we remember that children are nothing more than evolving adults, we will find it easy to start communications with our children at the root level.   Once the process has begun, we find that our children will not hesitate to expose to us their feelings, their traumas, their confusions.  The trust between the child and parent has been established because we have been able to talk honestly and openly with our children.   Only when we have opened the door to ourselves does the door to the child's inner sanctum open to us.
      When is that time to begin such communication?
      If we look at the statistics from the survey, it begins when the child is in the womb. We can talk to the child in the womb as though it were an adult, respecting the fact that the child is not without understanding, not without an evolutionary process of growth.   We might chose carefully what we share, but we do not hold back our emotions.  We talk to the child openly, removing barriers and obstacles that might hinder our communication between our Emotional Self and our child's Emotional Self.
      Proof that this is vital comes from the 400% factor.   The younger the child, the more prone the child is to Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms.   The report calls these children, "silent victims."   They are victims of not being able to process Terrorism because they were not taught how to.
      A Parent of Vigilance is one who teaches a child mental health.   He or she dedicates his or her communication to root out the Terrorisms in a child, thus allowing that child to deal with all the different traumas any child faces during the development ages of life.
      The survey validates this.  There were 13% of the children who reported no "psychological trauma" as a result of the September 11th attack.  This doesn't mean they weren't afraid, or traumatized by the event.  It simply means they processed the Terrorism and exposed their Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies in such a way as to neutralize them with Courage, Conviction and Action.
      I'm sure the child did not do this alone.
      The Parent of Vigilance, or Loved One of Vigilance, or Guardian of Vigilance, helped them expose their feelings, talked about them, and resolved them to such an extent that when the survey was done six months later, 13% of the children tested showed no or little signs of psychological trauma. 
      Ask yourself if your parents shared their Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies with you in a therapeutic manner?   Ask yourself if they had done this, would you have been more or less prone to let your own Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies rule your thinking, clutter up your ability to interact most positively in life?
      If your answer is yes, then don't wait.
      Make your list of Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies today.  Then, start the process of sharing them with your children at appropriate times, building or rebuilding the Bridge of Vigilance over which you can safely and rightfully pass the wisdoms of your life to your child.  Make your child a 13% Factor Child--a Child Of Vigilance.

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