By Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Chief of Early Child Development, United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), Pia Britto has revealed that more than 86.7 million children under the age of 7 have spent their entire lives in conflict zones, putting their brain development at risk.
Britto stated that during the first 7 years of life, a child’s brain has the potential to activate 1,000 brain cells every second. Each one of those cells, known as neurons, has the power to connect to another 10,000 neurons thousands of times per second.
This was contained in a news release made available to Journalists in Abuja.
According to the release, “Brain connections serve as the building blocks of a child’s future, defining their health, emotional well-being and ability to learn.
“Children living in conflict are often exposed to extreme trauma, putting them at risk of living in a state of toxic stress, a condition that inhibits brain cell connections — with significant life-long consequences to their cognitive, social and physical development.
“In addition to the immediate physical threats that children in crises face, they are also at risk of deep-rooted emotional scars,” UNICEF Chief of Early Child Development Pia Britto said.
UNICEF figures show that globally one in 11 children aged 6 or younger has spent the most critical period of brain development growing up in conflict.
“Conflict robs children of their safety, family and friends, play and routine. Yet these are all elements of childhood that give children the best possible chance of developing fully and learning effectively, enabling them to contribute to their economies and societies, and building strong and safe communities when they reach adulthood,” Britto said.