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'I Feel Bad Because There Is WAR' : Drawing Conclusions


At elementary schools throughout Southern California, students are using crayons, colored markers and construction paper to express their feelings about the war.

David Szink, 8, a third-grader at Clover Avenue School in West Los Angeles, drew two large hands reaching toward each other in a gesture of goodwill. One hand is brown; the other, orange. The picture is titled, "Let this happen!"

Szink interpreted his drawing this way: "Instead of people fighting, why couldn't President Bush go over to Iraq and ask Saddam Hussein to talk to him face to face," he reasoned, leaning across a picnic table. "And why does Iraq barge into Kuwait? They (Iraq) should ask Kuwait if they want to be part of Iraq and if they say no, he (Hussein) should leave."

Szink added, almost as an afterthought, "The brown hand is Saddam Hussein and the orange hand is Bush."

Kelley Blake, 8, another third-grader at Clover, drew a picture of Saddam Hussein shooting a U.S. soldier, who asks: "Why are you killing people just for oil?" Hussein replies: "This is fun!"

Hussein "wants the oil," said Blake. "I mean, there's no reason he should have it. . . . One of my cousins is a Marine or something, and I think one of my great-aunt's sons might go to war and I don't want him to go because he might die."

At Ninth Street School, just south of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, second-grader Maria Angela Marroquin, 8, used bright colors--red, blue, green, purple--to illustrate her drawing of Baghdad. People wearing kaffiyehs walk down a highway. A grinning man with a black mustache is selling fruit from a stand. The tall oblong buildings are topped with billboards. A purple plane flies over the top of the scene, dropping a blue bomb.

"The city of Baghdad is being bombed. I think the people in Baghdad are bad. They should kill Saddam Hussein," said Marroquin.

Beatriz Yanez, 10, a fifth-grader at Ninth Street, chose images of a tank, Iraqi and American flags, and the word "PEACE" for her drawing.

"Since there hasn't been any ground fighting yet, I would like to show what it would be like when it starts," she said. "I'd like them (Bush and Hussein) to talk something out and make a difference in the world."

Psychologist Bita Ratkevich, who works for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said: "One kindergartner drew a picture of Saddam Hussein with knives and blood all over the place, and when I talked to her about it, I understood it. She was Iranian and came here about a year ago, and (had) lived through all that killing in the (Iran-Iraq) war.

"I thought the teacher should share with the parent that the child has drawn a picture with all these terrible things. The parents probably have the TV on all the time because they have relatives there.

"I'm worried about this turning into a nightmare."

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