Subjects: Physical and Mental Health, Middle Eastern Studies, Children Youth and Family
Toxic stress is stress that’s so severe, prolonged, or frequent that it can damage the developing brain - affecting mental and physical health, functionality, and behavior over a lifespan. Decision making capability is compromised. Control over impulses can be lost. DNA can actually be altered, negatively impacting generations to come.
In Syria alone, it’s estimated that more than 8 million children are suffering from the unrelenting and brutal war. Parents or siblings dead, homes lost, starvation, insufficient medical care and catastrophic injuries. It’s no wonder that many boys choose the perceived dignity of fighting for ISIS or a militia over the uncertain future of a refugee. For girls, an early marriage offers financial relief for their family and a sense of security in a terrifying world. The stability and health of the family is compromised as husbands and fathers are lost to war and the family forced to relocate and live for years or even decades in a refugee camp.
Terror and Hope offers a unique window into the impact of war on children through the pioneering work of an international team of scientists and humanitarians. Our film follows researchers from Yale, Harvard and Hashemite Universities as they investigate the impact of toxic stress on young refugees fleeing the brutal Syrian civil war. As our cameras join them in their research in Jordan's refugee camps and communities, we witness the role that science is playing to mitigate one of our planet's most intractable social problems – the forced displacement of entire populations due to war and famine. The film also explores issues not normally associated with scientific research, including the role of love and compassion in the practice of science. Due to the innovative work of these dedicated researchers and aid workers, there is hope for the future of children scarred by war.
About the filmmaker
Independent documentary filmmaker. Ron's current documentary, "Terror and Hope, The Science of Resilience," documents the efforts of an international team of researchers and humanitarians to better understand the impact of toxic stress on the lives of displaced refugee children from war-torn Syria. Ron's earlier doc, “Lessons of Basketball and War” has been an official selection in more than a dozen international film festivals and is currently available on Amazon Prime in the US and UK as well as on Kanopy for streaming by over 3000 Universities and Public Libraries globally.