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War Having Devastating Impact on Ukraine’s Children

Survey of Ukrainian Mothers Reveals Conflict is Taking Major Toll on Mental Health and Educational Performance on their Children

In addition to the tragic deaths or injuries of 1,200 children, the on-going toll on academic performance and mental health for so many Ukrainian students has been devastating.”
— Irwin Redlener, co-founder of Ukraine Children’s Action Project

LVIV, UKRAINE, February 22, 2023 / -- A survey released today by the Ukraine Children’s Action Project (UCAP), conducted in collaboration with Kyiv-based Ratings Group, details the extreme toll of the Ukrainian war on the mental health and educational performance of the nation’s children.

To find out how their children are faring under extreme war-time hardships, 2,000 Ukrainian mothers from all regions of the country were surveyed between January 27th, 2023 and February 1st, 2023. Among the findings:

• Since the start of the war, the number of children doing poorly in school has climbed seven-fold.
• In December 2022, school studies were interrupted almost every day or several times a week by air raid sirens (68%), blackouts (60%), no internet service (57%), no heat (17%), or lack of a teacher (8%).
• Parental report of child mental health indicates an overall decline. When comparing pre-war to now, data show a decrease from 35% to 11% of those reporting very good mental health.
• Children in front-line regions are experiencing a fifteen-fold increase in mental health issues since the invasion; those in Kyiv a seven-fold increase over the same period.
• Nearly all respondents (94%) remain convinced that Ukraine will prevail over Russia, but 38% more respondents expressed some or a “a lot” of uncertainty about what the future holds, as opposed to early in the war.

Since the start of the war a year ago, 28% of children have been reportedly separated from friends and 25% of children have been relocated within Ukraine. Forty percent of respondents have a close relative serving in the military. Grieving is widespread throughout the country.

"In the year since Russia invaded Ukraine, what began as a brutal military invasion has degenerated into a massive, relentless terror campaign being waged against Ukrainian civilians. As a result, and as our survey shows, the conflict is taking a major toll on children,” said Irwin Redlener, co-founder of Ukraine Children’s Action Project and professor at Columbia University. "In addition to the tragic deaths or injuries of 1,200 children, the on-going toll on academic performance and mental health for so many Ukrainian students has been devastating. Because these are precisely the issues that can impact a child's development and success well into the future, this reality bodes poorly for the eventual recovery of Ukraine."

UCAP was founded by Dr. Irwin Redlener and Karen Redlener, leading public health advocates for children, in affiliation with the Entertainment Industry Foundation. UCAP focuses on providing urgently needed mental health support for psychologically traumatized children. It also funds intensive efforts to help children fleeing the war continue their education.

"While we know from this survey how Ukrainian children are doing, we also are very concerned about the 2 million who have fled to other countries,” said Karen Redlener, co-founder of UCAP. “Getting these children into schools to continue their education has proven to be exceedingly challenging."

UCAP’s advisory committee comprises well-known professionals in education, media, government, and entertainment. They include actor Michael Keaton and singer-songwriter and human-rights advocate Joan Baez. Warsaw mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski, and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten also serve on UCAP's advisory committee.

UCAP is working primarily with the cities of Lviv, Ukraine, and Warsaw, Poland and other local and international organizations on the ground to address the critical and growing needs of the Ukrainian children at high risk. Since relentless bombing of energy infrastructure and civilian targets began in October, UCAP has also been purchasing and distributing back-up generators, wood burning stoves and winter clothes for children.

UCAP has developed extensive online trainings in Ukrainian and Polish to help teachers manage classrooms filled with traumatized children and has also purchased six refurbished school buses for Chernihiv, Ukraine to replace some of those destroyed or “appropriated” by the Russian military.

In Lviv, UCAP is working with the mayor and his senior staff to support special facilities for traumatized children who may also need rehabilitation for war injuries.


About Ukraine Children’s Action Project:
Ukraine Children's Action Project (UCAP) is a non-profit organization founded by Irwin and Karen Redlener in May of 2022. UCAP has been raising funds to assist Ukrainian programs supporting children who have experienced psychological trauma or who are not able to continue their education. UCAP has also invested significantly in humanitarian needs including generators, wood-burning stoves, and winter clothes for IDP children.

Jennifer Baskerville
Baskerville Public Relations
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