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War with Iraq

To help children come to terms with recent events in Iraq

by Gordon Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To help children come to terms with recent events in Iraq.

Preparation and materials

  • This assembly was written at the very outbreak of hostilities and we hope to provide a useful and adaptable resource. Clearly there may be significant developments that you will need to take into account, particularly if the conflict spreads through terrorism.
  • You may have children whose parents are serving in Iraq, or children of Iraqi descent of from neighbouring countries - please adapt the material as appropriate taking account of these sensitivities.

Assembly

  1. Introduce the theme, taking account of the sensitivities above. Recap in general terms what has happened so far to give the context. If there are any breaking news stories, introduce the phrase 'the fog of war' and explain that it means that in the confusion and uncertainty of battle it is often hard to get clear information; and that what we think at one time may later turn out to be inaccurate. If you feel it is appropriate you could also introduce the idea of 'the first casualty of war is the truth'. This means that in war there is confusion and each side often tries to make it sound as though things are going well for them.

  2. Talk about the armed services and say how these are very well-trained people who work hard to be very good at what they do. They do not want to fight, but are ready if asked to do so by the government. It is they who must risk their lives and endure hardships whenever our country is involved in war. People of all different beliefs about the war come together to support the men and women of the armed services because of the difficult job they do. Point out that even in war there are standards of behaviour and ways of treating the enemy and that we are fortunate to live in a country where these are upheld by the armed forces.

  3. Talk about the Iraqi people and ask children to remember them. Everyone says that they are not the enemy, that we are not fighting them, yet they will bear the heavy cost of war - some will be injured, some killed. There will be some children in Iraq who will lose their parents or brothers or sisters.

  4. Talk about the international situation without going into too much detail or taking sides. You could point out how hard many people tried to avoid a war. You could say that across the world, and particularly in our own country, there has been fierce debate about whether it is right to go to war. You could mention the United Nations, saying how important it is as a place where different countries can try to work together to sort out differences. In this case that didn't succeed - ask children to think about the people who work there, who work hard for peace in the world.

  5. Finally point out that, just as in arguments in school and between friends, it is often difficult to know what to do to put things right. It can be hard to find the truth of what has happened ('fog of war'), and that we often feel confused and sad when bad things happen. Explain that it is okay to feel like this; human beings do find it hard to sort out problems and sometimes we find ourselves feeling a bit lost and uncertain. At times like these we need to help each other, and people who have religious beliefs turn to their faith in God. They don't expect God to sort it all out, but they do feel that they can tell God about their worries and that God will understand and help them to cope.

Time for reflection

Dear God,
We pray for anyone we know who is in any way involved in the war -
please be with them and let them know that we care for them.
We pray for everyone in the armed services of the countries involved in this war -
please be with them and let them know that we care for them.
We pray for the Iraqi people -
please be with them and let them know that we care for them.
We pray for the people who work for peace at the United Nations -
please be with them and let them know that we care for them.
We pray for everyone in school and at home who is worried about the war -
please be with them and let them know that we care for them.
Amen.
Publication date: 2003   (Vol.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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