Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Children's Helpline

Some of you may already know how much I enjoy the Harry Potter series ( movies and books). Here is a good summary of the previous six parts. The latest release is no exception and I'm hoping to receive my copy soon.

What caught my eye while I was doing the news rounds hoping to catch an early review about the story was that a helpline as been set up for the fans...

"A national children's helpline says it's ready to deal with calls from Potter fans who feel unhappy after the last book in the series goes on sale. "

I thought that was a joke until I read further ..

"the death of any big characters in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows could be very hard on younger readers. [...] Death and loss can make children upset, angry and afraid," said a Childline spokesman. [...] "The story could bring back unhappy memories for children who have lost friends, relatives or pets."

When I read this I was struck by the irony that some children are so lucky their only distress will be the death of their favourite book character yet they will need counselling for that ?
I remembered that even adults have a great difficulty coping with trauma if we take one example the conflict in Iraq we can see from testimonies here how badly the veteran military personel and their families are affected. That's when I started crying; a helpline for fans ? a helpline for grown up war veterans ? How many helplines will we need for a whole country ? or for at least one portion of it that may survive and grow up in that country ? the 'silent victims' as CNN calls it ?

"One of the studies on primary-school-age children in Baghdad found that nearly half of the 600 children surveyed had experienced a major traumatic event since the war began. Just over one in every 10 suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, the study found. Another of the studies found that older children in Mosul suffered even worse. Thirty percent of the 1,090
children surveyed showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Nearly all of those with PTSD
symptoms, 92 percent, had not received any treatment, according to the study."

"Many Iraqi children have to pass dead bodies on the street as they walk to school in the morning, according to a separate report last week by the International Red Cross. [...] Iraqi psychiatrists worry about the long-term consequences of a generation that has been constantly exposed to explosions, gunfights, kidnappings and sectarian murders. "Some of these children are time bombs," said Said al-Hashimi, a psychiatrist who teaches at Mustansiriya Medical
School. " [more]

There have been some ideas to help the Iraqi children in 2003 but it does not amount to much as apparently 'to this day, there is not one specialized child psychiatrist in all of Iraq'. I keep contrasting that with the helpline set up for the Harry Potter fans and my blood rises.

Any helpline for this little guy ?

"There I saw a four year-old boy sitting beside his mother's body which had been decapitated by the explosion.
"He was talking to her, asking her what had happened. He had been taken out shopping by his mum."

More info here as well ...

An Iraqi psychiatrist recently said : "Most Iraqi people now deal with each other in an aggressive way; they show disturbed behaviour; they have lost their civility. "

Sadness over the end of the Potter era sounds so futile compared to the suffering of one child in Iraq.


programmer craig said...

Nobody can help in Iraq, though, Highlander. The people trying to provide assistance would become victims themselves. The youngest generations of Iraqis may be "time bombs", but I'm not so sure. The majority of the foreign murderers in Iraq are from countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya. Whatever caused them to become terrorists, it wasn't growing up in a war zone, right?

I do agree setting up a help line for Harry Potter fans is silly. I can't explain it. Maybe just another example of how over-protective we are of children, these days.

The Lost Libyano said...
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The Lost Libyano said...

I wont lie and say that I am not a fan of Harry Potter. But..... their are other things out their. Check out the Master of The Jinn.

The Lost Libyano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anglo-Libyan said...

do you remember the English pop group Take That?
when they split up back in the 90s I think, a help line (councelling) was set up for distressed fans!! thats how silly it can get here, on the other hand there are help lines that are doing fantastic jobs like Child Line and The Samaritans, yes they are lucky here that they have caring authorities like they do, even if it was only for silly matters!

The situation in Iraq is so sad for children but how can anyone help? God help them.

did you know that many people queued for days to buy the New Harry Potter book?
There has been so many theories about which characters die that is until now. Now many know who dies, do you want to know, a little spolier?? No I cant say :o)

I am a fan of Harry Potter and I know its supposed to be for kids but many adults enjoy it.

Highlander said...

Anglo Libyan tell me who dies by email this way we don't spoil anything for whoever is reading my blog :) I don't mind knowing I'll still read the book when I receive it eventually.

More replies coming later ...

PH said...

You know what Highlander that isn't even the sad part. The thing is that in another 30 or so years if any of these children turn into "terrorists" most people will forget that they were the victims of this war ( not that its an excuse ), like they forget the numerous wars that have tore Egypt apart during the last century and the wars, sanctions and bombings Libyans have had to suffer .... it's a sad state of affairs ..... I guess people only remember victims of their own and not those they victimize ?

Highlander said...

Programmer_Craig :) thanks for your input. God is there to help Iraq in the long run. But I was comparing how people acknowledge that children in some countries are affected by a book which may remind them of the loss of a friend or pet while others loose a friend, a neighbour or a family member on a daily basis a need to cope with this.

The violence in Iraq is certainly due to the foreign elements but not only from those countries you mentioned... whatever caused people to become terrorists ( while not an excuse as PH says) is similar situation to what is going on in Iraq - a great injustice and deprivation of sometimes basic rights. I won't elaborate more.
Thanks for agreeing that helpline for Pottermania is a bit too much :P

Lost Libyano hey thanks for the link I'm gonna order this Jinn thingy. Walahi LL you cope up with lots of interesting reads :) It's a pity you took down your blog I used to browse your favourite books.

Anglo Libyan :) Yes I remember Take That but I can't imagine people getting hysterical about their breaking up - woow it's like those who commit suicide when AbdelHalim died - ya satter what kind of human weakness is that ?

I would not queue for a any book I'll just go the next week and buy from Tesco at 1/2 price :P

PH , yes I agree with you, we still remember the bombing and other stuff and no matter how much balanced we are and laugh at our adventure back then and how we went looking for places to hide ( some people hid in disaffected majari ( sewage pipes) it still causes me stress when I hear the engine of an airplane - my heart looses a beat :( - and no matter how much I rationalise the action and the circumstances that led to it, it still hurts that Highlander kid.

programmer craig said...


like they forget the numerous wars that have tore Egypt apart during the last century and the wars, sanctions and bombings Libyans have had to suffer .... it's a sad state of affairs .....

When was Egypt invaded and occupied? When was Libya invaded and occupied? I'm sorry, but if you are trying to compare what is happening in Iraq to Egypt or Libya's recent history, you aren't going to be able to sell that one to me.

Lebanon and Palestinian territories, maybe. Afghanistan, maybe (but it's not in the ME).

Why is it that there are more Palestinians, Lebanese and Afghan "terrorists" in Iraq? And by the way, if you don't believe the foreigners who go to Iraq to murder people are terrorists, perhaps you should read some Iraqi blogs? I assure you, Iraqis believe them to be terrorists - without the sneer quotes.

I guess people only remember victims of their own and not those they victimize ?

I guess so. It isn't Americans terrorizing Iraqis, so you (if you are a Muslim) will be a better judge of whether anyone will remember what jihadis have done to Iraq than I am.

Sorry if this comment seems rude, but I felt somebody had to correct the record.

programmer craig said...

H there were Libyans participating in the Lebanese civil war back in the 1970s, and there were Libyan "terrorists" (does the quotes make you happy, PH?) murdering people (Muslim and non Muslim both)long before 1986.

I'm sorry, but some of these statements look like a cop-out. And I have yet to see anybody try to rationalize the fact that over half of the "foreign fighters" (jihadis) captured or killed in Iraq have been Saudi nationals. If you guys are right about the factors that produce terrorists, none should be Saudi... all should be Lebanese or Palestinian (or Afghan). But that isn't the case, is it?

PH said...

I know how it can feel Highlander, apart from my own personal experiences from that tragedy I also have a friend whose grandfather helped out the Libyan resistance by smuggling weapons to them during the Italian occupation.

The resistance at the time was allied with the Allies against the Nazi's and the Fascist's, can you imagine that he is still considered a "terrorist" and has a death sentence against him in Italy even though the Fascist's were supposedly defeated.

My friend is always going on about how his grandfather has trouble traveling abroad because of it .... I mean its really sickening that the effects and trauma from war can last so long ..... :(

Maya M said...

Perhaps surprisingly, I doubt that Iraqi children are losing so much for not having psychological and psychiatric help available.
Most psychologists and psychiatrists have an idea what it is to be normal and try their best to push their patient into this idea. This is a result of their training and the pressure exerted on them by society. So they tend to neglect the human nature of their patient and to regard him as a walking bag of unwanted symptoms instead.
The results often are bizarre. A mother who lost her only daughter in the Lockerbie crash complained that psychologists presumed to help her instead tried to convince her it was wrong that she felt rage. Psychiatrists are worse. They like to mess with brain chemistry. Most of their patients leave their office with a prescription. At, you can see how a 5-yr-old, presumably a patient, saw his doctor. Recently, it was disclosed that "the more psychiatrists have earned from drug makers, the more they have prescribed a new class of powerful medicines known as atypical antipsychotics to children, for whom the drugs are especially risky and mostly unapproved" (
I don't say people shouldn't bring their child for evaluation if there seems to be a problem. However, they should remember the old joke, "Why did you go to the doctor? - Because the doctor needs to (earn money to) live. - Why did you go to the pharmacy with the prescription? - Because the pharmacists also needs to live. - Then why did you discard the medicine? - Because I also want to live."

Maya M said...

I strongly disagree with PH about post-traumatic stress disorder as a factor producing terrorists.
Terrorists are bred by a culture encouraging terror. It is beyond doubt that many children in Germany and Japan at the end of World War II suffered psychological trauma. But they didn't grow to become terrorists.
Recently, I had a discussion with a group of (mostly white) Americans about Malcolm X. They were considering him a great man and a model. I tried to make a point that he was a hatemonger and although his end earns sympathy (killed by the demons of hate and violence unleashed by him as he was trying to lure them back into the bottle), I still couldn't see any reason to regard him as a model. My opponents said that it was natural for him to hate the whites after his loved ones were attacked and even killed by whites.
Yes, but somehow we don't see many whites whose loved ones have been killed by blacks respond with preaching anti-black hatred; moreover, I am sure that if we see such a person, nobody would excuse him.
It is the same with the Mideast conflict. We have all read long columns how Palestinian children are made to become terrorists because of the ills brought by occupation. However, when an Israeli soldier commits an atrocity, nobody is interested whether he has suffered PTSD in childhood as a result of Palestinian freedom fight.
So, US whites and Israeli Jews are regarded as responsible people who should answer for their deeds upon coming of age, while US blacks and Arabs are regarded as people not expected (or, God forbid, required) to control their impulses; all we can do is try to prevent these impulses to appear by removing as many potential causes as possible. I think this double standard is based on racism and although blacks and Arabs benefit from it in the short run, it is against their long-term interests.

Safia speaks said...

I need a tax comfort headline, because I am so down everytime the IRS wants the annual checkup!

Anglo-Libyan said...

salam highlander
I cant find ur email on the blog :o)

The Lost Libyano said...

Democracy Watch: How The West Treats women

H, visit this and tell me what you think. If it was my sister who was smacked the perp wouldnt be alive. So much for the west being "pro-women's rights". Women are being sexually harassed in our school's violated and touched, yet all we can think about is harry potter hotlines. What about these young women? Who is helping them? The rap video's and western media glorfy this sort of behavior, its normal, women are objects which random men touch and fondel, and 87% of Americans when polled approve of it...... Where are the help lines.....

tasnim said...


This reminds me of a news report I saw recently on the games Iraqi children now play, like blowing up toy cars with khot u lawi7. whether they are "time bombs" or future "terrorists", I think it has everything to do with growing up in a warzone.

Anonymous said...

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder experienced by individuals who have undergone a very traumatic incident. However, it should not be confused with the usual grief felt by most people after the death of a loved one. The symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, anger or rage, emotional detachment, memory loss, hyper-vigilance, and depression.