Kids Caught in the Crossfire

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

Dr. Andreas Anastasiou is a psychology professor at Mary Baldwin College. But at age nine, he was a child of war.

In 1974, Turkish forces invaded his homeland of Cyprus.

"I remember my mom waking me up and she was very disturbed and she says to me, "My son, we are at war." And the first thought in my mind was everybody must have to go through a war. I guess now it is my time," he says.

Cyprus is a peaceful place now, but just decades ago, the Greeks went to war. And Anastasiou says the children had to grow up very quickly and confront tough questions.

"What will it be like if my father dies or my mother or my siblings? And then I contemplated my own death," he says.

Families dug backyard trenches for air raid cover. Anastasiou says the bombs scared him the most.

"Whether you were a baby or an adult you had a physiological reaction of shaking. People were crying. Men and women and children were all crying," he says.

Attacks only lasted a month, but Anastasiou says the war scarred many.

"A lot of children had a significant amount of anger and a lot of children had post traumatic stress disorders," he says.

As another Gulf War takes shape, Anastasiou says he empathizes with innocent Iraqi families.

"We must not talk about war as if it only happens to other people. We must always put ourselves in the position of someone who's experiencing war, who's about to die," he says.

Anastasiou says after a war, only so much of Iraq can be rebuilt, lost children never can.

Anastasiou now teaches about peace and conflict resolution at Mary Baldwin College.

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