Growing up in a War Zone

In the Guardian, Michael Howard reports from Baghdad about the emotional toll the war is taking on Iraqi children. After describing a game in which a young boy is pulled from a toy car by a group of make-believe insurgents who then pretend to slit their playmate's throat, Howard writes:

Abdul-Muhammad and his five younger brothers, aged between six and 12, should have been at school. But their mother, Sayeeda, like thousands of parents in Iraq's perilous capital city, now keeps her boys at home. Three weeks ago, armed men had intercepted their teacher's car at the school gates, then hauled him out and slit his throat. Just like in their game.

"That day they came home and they were changed because of the things they'd seen," said Sayeeda as she ladled rice into the boys' bowls. "The youngest two have been wetting their beds and having nightmares, while Abdul-Muhammad has started bullying and ordering everyone to play his fighting games. I know things are not normal with them. My fear is one day they will get hold of real guns. But in these times, where is the help?"