Southern Brooklyn

Children Suffering Emotional Distress In Areas Still Without Power


Hurricane Sandy has created a miserable month for thousands of Southern Brooklynites. Homes were flooded, cars were destroyed, jobs were lost, and scores are still left without heat and power. While adults everywhere have been reeling from all the damage they have incurred, their children are also paying a heavy emotional price.

According to an article in the New York Daily News, children all across Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Red Hook, living in homes without power, heat, and hot water, have become anxious, depressed, and frightened due to the radical change in their lives, and wondering when or if their misery will end.

Normally when the snow comes, it brings great elation to children everywhere, but not when they have been absent heat or power for over a week with no relief in site.

“I don’t want to live in my house anymore. I am scared. I don’t want to come back. We are literally right by the water,” told Janasia Chambers, 12, to the Daily News, “When it was snowing, it was scary.”

The Daily News cites child psychology experts who describe how fear and depression grow in children deprived of simple things we all take for granted like warm showers, fresh clean clothes, and the ability to play video games.

“The longer this persists, the more of a lasting impact it will have on kids. It will make them more fearful and more anxious,” said Alan Hilfer to the News, “[its like] a prison sentence.”

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  1. Ok… Not to sound like a hypocrite or anything, and I love you guys to death… But really? If these kids are deprived of video games any longer, it’ll cause traumatic emotional scars? I’ve lived through winters with little to no heat, limited hot showers, living on microwaveable food only due to the lack of a gas oven/stove, and I honestly couldn’t be happier as a kid… I get this is a devastation, but playing the kid card? Kids are fucking spoiled… This is a natural devastation… Shouldn’t they be a little better prepared for shit like this mentally? And if it happens again, are they suppose to hide under the bed? …No offense but this article is pretty fuckin’ ridiculous..

  2. What the heck is worng with you two. They’ re kids. They go to bed cold and they wake up cold. The house is dark. There’s no hot water. No elevator. The adults are probably stressed beyond belief. Some of them are going to different schools. You think you’re so tough and you say just suck it up but, you’d be just as anxious and distressed as they are after two weeks of living like that.

  3. I get the fear caused by no heat and power and all that, but if deprivation of video games causes depression and emotional trauma, then we are not bringing up kids right. That’s the definition of “spoiled”.

  4. Yes, I’m stressed, all right!

    I lived on a 6th floor of a building where elevator almost never worked for 20 years (Ukraine). In the early 90s (before we left) every winter there were multiple days where there would be no heat (thanks to lack of Russian fuel). We routinely bathed by warming up water on a stove and using a big cup as a ladle.

    Today, there are millions of children who are in danger of dying from starvation and/or lack of clean water. How anxious should they be, huh?
    Please tell Afghani girls, who risk acid being splashed in their faces (or worse) for a sin of attending school, that “going to different schools” is a problem!

    Where is all this Republican rhetoric of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps when you need it?

  5. Yeah, I get it. You suffered and you don’t have to tell me what’s going on in the world. I also watch CNN/MSNBC and a host of other news outlets. But, like I said, they’re kids and their reality doesn’t extend beyond their families, their home and their school.

  6. That’s exactly where the problem is! Part of our job as parents is to enlighten the children that there is life outside the “box”, so that they have what to be thankful for during the upcoming Thanksgiving!

  7. Glad you remind people what it was like living there. I grew up having to wear hand-me-downs. I had to put padding in my baseball glove. I got two toys per year. If i dropped my candy on the floor, i picked it up and ate it, because i was not getting another 6 cents for a new one that day. And this was USA. So when I hear kids not having video games is a cause for emotional trauma, I kinda freak.

    What’s next. “Johnny is emotionally wrought because he has to use his Galaxy phone since the iPhone was damaged”. Like I said, having no food and heat is one thing, having no video games is quite another.

  8. Is this a competition? I’m sorry life in Mother Russia was so awful for you. These kids may have been fortunate enough to live privileged lives, but they didn’t grow up under those conditions, and to be suddenly plunged into it is extremely traumatizing. Have a little bit of compassion for Christ’s sake, they are children!

  9. Your lack of empathy is startling, given your previous life. But you’re right. These kids have to stop whining. It’s only been two weeks, after all. God only knows when they’ll have heat and light. You survived so I’m sure they will too.

  10. Firstly, Ukraine, not Russia. Secondly, forget about me. Despite material circumstances, some of my happiest days were spent there (like my father holding me in his arms, meeting my wife, birth of my son, and so on).
    It is instructive for Manhattan Beach residents to visit less privileged neighborhoods from time to time. For example, some places in northern Philly where people have plastic film instead of windows and no roof above their heads – literally. Now that’s traumatizing.

  11. I have plenty of empathy, just as a proper card-carrying knee-jerk liberal supposed to. Just not toward people comparing lack of video games with a prison sentence.

  12. Nothing about facebook or video games or comparing these things (or any of this stuff for that matter) to a prison sentence belonged in this article and the news should be ashamed to have posted that.

    As far as the lack of heat and clothing goes (funny how we are talking about this when just today I once again had to deal with a lack of hot water [due to the landlord, nothing related to Sandy] when I was trying to shower, after I got my haircut and had mad hair snips on my head to boot), I can see the frustration if you have to deal with the difficulties of living in public housing from day to day and on top of it you have to deal with this lack of basic necessities.

    However, as some folks have stated, this may not be so horrible even for the children.

    But the one person for whom I have to feel sorry is Tyril David. You have to admit it is quite traumatizing to have to deal with:

    1. Living in public housing from day to day
    2. Having a storm hit and cause mad chaos in your life
    3. Your parent being blind and therefore having even more difficulty negotiating daily situations than s/he already does

    That is how I see this. Mr. David has the most adversity to deal with of any kid in this article.

    Just try not to make this an endurance competition and forget about the comments about facebook and video games and whatnot. I did not notice any specific complaints from the children about these things in the article

  13. its not spoiled, it isnt even the video games per se… it is lack of normalcy in their lives. NOTHING is the same, nothing can be counted on, every day is a scary reminder of the night the hurricane hit. people around then are stressed out, their is no solace to be found for these kids. If I am still getting anxious when the sun goes down and night falls and I now have power and lights and water I can imagine how a child feels 🙁

  14. But we’re missing the whole picture here. Something catastrophic occurred, and afterwards, everything became different. That which children believe to a usual part of their environment is gone. That is traumatizing.

  15. All true – it was a big change and it is traumatizing. But everything needs to be assessed in comparison, which was my point.

    Levels of Suffering Scale (Proposed)
    Dying from childhood leukemia = 10
    Surviving genocide in (Rwanda, Bosnia, you name it) = 9
    Having to sell your body for food and shelter = 8
    Having physically and/or sexually abusive parents = 7
    Living with your Mom in a car = 6
    Not having power in your house = 2

    These events will keep happening more and more often (remember Irene?)
    So what are we going to become as a society in a number of years – one giant mental institution?

    Related: next hurricane, Indian Point nuclear power station may or may not come out intact. My family lived just as close to Chernobyl in 1986 (fortunately for us, south of it while most of the wind went north). ‘Nuff said.

  16. go out side and play, little spoiled kids…… That’s what annoys me about this generation of kids, Back when i was a kid if we didn’t have something we went outside and played with our friends.

  17. The difference here is the immediacy of the change. And the apparent pervasiveness of it. Shared misery does not help people cope more easily, it leads to a collective sense of despair.

    PTSD can exist as both a response to a ongoing event as well as a interruption to one’s sense of the expected. Both can have long term consequences even if the source of the aberration is addressed. Children are especially vulnerable to this aftereffect.

  18. In that case, both Palestinian and Israeli children deserve our compassion much more right about now, than any of their Brooklyn brothers and sisters.

    Situation in Gaza satisfies all criteria you stated:
    – immediacy of the change
    – apparent pervasiveness of it
    – shared misery

    In addition, our situation is temporary (albeit prolonged) and we no longer face the actual cause of the disaster.

  19. jesus christ this generation is a bunch of pussies man. brooklyn used to breed some of the toughest kids i ever seen and nowadays,…

  20. Yes, that was an amazing discovery. At the same time, I also found out that there are children in other parts of United States and, even more surprising, elsewhere in the world, whose experience is so much worse that I’m ashamed we are even having this conversation.

  21. Me acknowledging the suffering of the kids here in brooklyn does not lessen my awareness of or my compassion for children in much worse circumstances in other parts of the world.

  22. Honestly… I was once privileged, considering my father was doing very well with his own computer business. Then he lost it, we were evicted, we went from shit hole apartment to shit hole apartment. I do think I’m tough, I am tough, I’ve always been tough. You have to be tough when your world gets turned upside down. But what did I do? While caring for a 5 year old brother because your parents are trying to make ends meet dealing with bullshit every single day. I didn’t sit there with the covers over my head crying that I can’t get toys for Christmas like we use to… I didn’t get scared when the lights would go off because our landlord was a royal dick. I didn’t bitch and complain when I showered in ice water, and sleep in sweaters next to my little brother (who’s a kicker mind you) .. I realized I was raised to understand that shit fuckin happens, and you can either sit their in your self absorbed shit filled pity diaper, or you make the best of it. I could not have been happier as a child. All I needed was my family, and a the Harry Potter book series and I was fine. So yeah, excuse my lack of compassion.

  23. children these days don’t know a world without being “connected” FB, Twitter, Cell phones, video games, TV, Netflix, etc… I even had an acute PTSD episode for a couple of days following Sandy. I however am the generation ahead of these kids so I can survive somewhat while the generation behind me is like I say doomed in the situation of a power failure or natural disaster or worse. This is why when I have children I will make sure they have a healthy dose of outdoor activities and not be a homebody like me… Adults that were hard hit by Sandy as well as my parents knew about a world once that didn’t have the Internet or constant television programming and can survive without it. This may seem like a joke to some but in reality its actually a major problem… Just imagine a solar flare knocking out the power for possibly months, aside from possible civil and state collapse kids would be walking zombies and would definitely not be able to cope with their reality

  24. Seriously dude? This shit happens. You can’t bitch up every time a fuckin storm hits that’s really stupid. A scary reminder of that night??? They should be happy they’re alive… They should be fascinated they lived through it. Not freaking out because it’s all of a sudden dark out. What about the National Grid fiasco when people were looting and hurting other people back in 08′ I think. I was a kid, We lit fuckin candles and called it a day. We told each other scary ghost stories and laughed until we couldn’t laugh anymore. We took ice showers because it was a million degrees at night. Give me a fuckin break.

  25. you’re missing the point… you cannot compare conditions in Rwanda versus conditions in America… Hurricane Sandy led many especially children through a life altering event. 2 weeks for those born into all these technological advancements and suddenly taking it away is life altering to them, perhaps not to you but certainly to them. Its not rocket science… It is not about compassion, it is about facts. If those children in Rwanda or those selling themselves for sex in Albania to feed themselves that is the life they were either born into and probably never had running water, electricity, or an Xbox… Why do you think people in Iraq or Afghanistan especially children live their lives perfectly without these necessities of civilization? B/c they have never had them or if they did it wasn’t on a huge scale where they were used to it… So take away the power and the video games and the every day life of a kid in Coney Island. Take away his heat and hot water… Its LIFE ALTERING… no one is saying its right that they have hot water, heat and electricity and someone who is born with Leukemia has it easier… We’re just proving the point that a Life Altering Event can cause a traumatic experience for a child, a teen, a man/woman, animal, whomever/whatever

  26. actually again, the children of Gaza probably were born under these conditions so I’m sure its stressful but if one is born in those conditions it may actually be a bit easier for them to say come here and then bitch about their atrocities when we bitch about ours… Like I said you’re missing the point

  27. Are you high..It was three days. And we’ve had our electricity shutoff for two weeks once. I didn’t cry about it though.

  28. If you ask anyone in western Ukraine, they will provide a different definition… Let’s just say they never did identify with Russia at all.

  29. seriously dude, I hear ya. I had it hard as a kid too. had to walk to and from school barefoot, in the snow, UPHILL both ways. 🙂

  30. Blame the parents for spoiling their kids…… Shit, my kids will read books for fun, not play video games where you have Endless lives trying to complete a mission to fuck some whores (GTA4) While stealing other peoples cars and shooting them in the face.

  31. I think your scale is a bit off- Dying is well- dead- once life is over we no longer suffer in that life do we??While it is happening the even it horrific and traumatic-but for those left escpcially the children it is sometimes worse than being the one who died!! Surviving genocide, holocaust, sexual abuse, and other huge traumas is a lifetime of dealing with the issues. I have suffered some pretty huge events in my life, and manage to put one foot in front of the other and moe on- considering the alternative (lay down and die)..I thing I’ll just toughen up and keep moving! I just feel bad for my poor dog- she is old and cold- still no heat or hot water- wearing a sweater 24/7 has her knotted up like a turkish rug..and she has more fear than any kid without his game boy!

  32. OK, I take your point in re: death – I was a bit angry when I wrote that post (can you tell?)
    But your own experience agrees with my overall point, no? You’ve got to be able to “put one foot in front of the other and move on”, and if we don’t teach this (including by example) to our children, they won’t be able to do so.
    I do feel for your dog, though… Perhaps, warm drinks would help (but no “irish coffee” and such)?

  33. The dog will be just fine. After all, there are dogs roaming the streets and sitting on death row at this very moment. Let’s keep things in perspective!

  34. However, if you own a dog, you have a responsibility under NY State law to provide due care.
    NY Agriculture and Markets Law. Chapter 69 Of the Consolidated Laws.

    § 353-b. Appropriate shelter for dogs left outdoors

    2. (a) Any person who owns or has custody or control of a dog that is left outdoors shall provide it with shelter appropriate to its breed, physical condition and the climate. Any person who knowingly violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a violation, punishable by a fine of not less than fifty dollars nor more than one hundred dollars for a first offense, and a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred fifty dollars for a second and subsequent offenses. Beginning seventy-two hours after a charge of violating this section, each day that a defendant fails to correct the deficiencies in the dog shelter for a dog that he or she owns or that is in his or her custody or control and that is left outdoors, so as to bring it into compliance with the provisions of this section shall constitute a separate offense.

    3. Minimum standards for determining whether shelter is appropriate to a dog’s breed, physical condition and the climate shall include:

    (a) For dogs that are restrained in any manner outdoors, shade by natural or artificial means to protect the dog from direct sunlight at all times when exposure to sunlight is likely to threaten the health of the dog.

    (b) For all dogs that are left outdoors in inclement weather, a housing facility, which must: (1) have a waterproof roof; (2) be structurally sound with insulation appropriate to local climatic conditions and sufficient to protect the dog from inclement weather; (3) be constructed to allow each dog adequate freedom of movement to make normal postural adjustments, including the ability to stand up, turn around and lie down with its limbs outstretched; and (4) allow for effective removal of excretions, other waste material; dirt and trash. The housing facility and the area immediately surrounding it shall be regularly cleaned to maintain a healthy and sanitary environment and to minimize health hazards.

    4. Inadequate shelter may be indicated by the appearance of the housing facility itself, including but not limited to, size, structural soundness, evidence of crowding within the housing facility, healthful environment in the area immediately surrounding such facility, or by the appearance or physical condition of the dog.

  35. I think we have been going in the wrong direction by trying to weigh the gravity of dissimilar circumstances. People strategize emotionally according to their experience, for good and bad. When they have no similar experience to draw from they can become emotionally afflicted to a serious degree. Addressing the concerns raised by this article does not negate concern for the situations of others. However there is no need to set up a special framework . existing networks can be utilized. At this point in time it is necessary to encourage people to talk about their fears and their concerns.

    This is very much in th realm of the doable, and is something all of us can participate in easily.


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