International (MNN) — Children experience tremendous amounts of violence in many Middle Eastern countries every day. Last week, a suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed several school children, bringing to the forefront the trauma that children in this region face.
Many children suffer from constant fear, according to SAT-7's Terry Ascott. Symptoms of trauma such as bed-wetting and lack of sleep affect millions of children. There are a total of 100 million children under the age of 15 in the Middle East today.
Another news source reports that after the second Lebanon War, a significant number of residents in Kiryat Shmona suffered from high and very high levels of stress and post-traumatic stress. The war in 2006 lasted for 34 days, killing more than 1,000 people.
The same study concluded that 10 percent of adults and 8 percent of children were at risk
because of their psychological symptoms and were in need of professional help. Interestingly, 60 percent of the same test group said they would not leave Kiryat Shmono.
Terry Ascott says that SAT-7's programming is a light in the midst of the darkness in the Middle East. "In SAT-7, people are finding programming for children: messages about forgiveness and love and turning the other cheek, about reconciliation and so on, as well as many Biblical truths, Bible stories and words of the Gospel."
One child psychologist who engaged children in art therapy after the war in Lebanon encountered a girl who drew a very peaceful picture of a garden and a table and flowers. "The child said, 'This is what I want to see on television–something peaceful, something lovely and quiet and calm, not all the blood and the violence that we see every day on television,'" explained Ascott.
Television is essentially an escape for people, especially children in the Middle East. There are very few positive means of escape. However, SAT-7 has many wholesome programs for children. Strategic programming is difficult, though, because of the number of time-zones within the Arab world.
A new children's channel will change all that, says Ascott. "It will launch, God-willing, in December just before Christmas, and we'll begin to provide programming for children around the clock, covering all those different time-zones in the Arab world with three to five hours a day of wholesome Christian values and programming–Bible stories, Bible cartoons for kids, music programs, and songs through which they can learn values and Christian teaching and Bible verses," said Ascott. He believes that this will be a tool
that penetrates the Arab world at the family level since parents welcome the positive message.
The challenges to get the channel started are many. There are staff, equipment and income needs associated with starting a new channel. It will be a three and a half million dollar investment to potentially reach half of the children in the Arab world. "Half of the homes in the Arab world today have Satellite television. This is a unique opportunity for them to bypass the censorship the government has put on all kinds of media and to hear the Gospel," said Ascott.