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Ala. Fifth-Graders Sound Off About Iraq

March 9, 2003

We’ve heard a lot of opinions from adults about a potential U.S.-led attack on Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein. But what do kids think?

To find out, The Associated Press posed questions to fifth-graders in Tommy Flowers’ class at University Place Montessori School, a public school in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Flowers’ students _ some whose parents are faculty members at the nearby University of Alabama _ come from many backgrounds. They are black, white, Asian and Hispanic, from relatively well-off families and from those that have less. One of Flowers’ students, Guk Hee Youn, is from South Korea. Another, Michael Nichelle, is from Venezuela.

``The kids really liked this activity,″ Flowers said. ``Most felt good about it because they were allowed to express their opinions on a topic most adults don’t include them in.″

He noted, however, that his students had difficulty answering a question about whether America and Britain should go to war without approval from the United Nations _ perhaps showing the same ambivalence many adults have expressed about the idea.

As with adults, Flowers said talk of war has been weighing heavily on the students’ minds.

``It concerns them, and they worry about it,″ Flowers said. ``I have an 11-year-old son who attends another school. And he is always asking questions about Iraq and when the war will start.″

Here’s what Flowers’ students had to say:


Q: What do you think of Saddam Hussein? And why?

From Tia Wells, age 11: He is a mean man who is trying to ruin the world.

From Guk Hee Youn, age 11: Saddam is horrible because he is making bombs that will kill people.

From Savannah Morton, age 10: Saddam Hussein is inconsiderate of his people because he is going to kill them. He wants to rule other people of the world, too.

From Meagan Fields, age 10: I think he is a copycat of Osama bin Laden. He wants to start a war with the United States.

From Tyler Nelson, age 11: I think he wants to be the king of the world! He wants to rule over more land.


Q: What do you think the world should do about Saddam?

From Jordan Collier, age 10: We should capture him and put him in jail for the rest of his life. He is trying to make nuclear bombs.

From Guk Hee Youn: The United Nations should stand together and fight for freedom. The rules in Iraq need to be changed.

From Savannah Morton: The United States should capture Saddam Hussein, find his bombs and destroy them.

From Casey Brinyark, age 12: The United States should get him before he destroys our planet.


Q: Should the United States and Great Britain attack Iraq, even if most countries in the United Nations don’t them want to?

From Guk Hee Youn: Yes, every country will soon have trouble with Iraq because Saddam has bombs.

From Jordan Collier: No, because we might lose too many soldiers and not have enough help to fight the war.

From Michael Nichelle, age 11: The United States and Great Britain don’t have armies big enough to attack Iraq without help.

From Shane Hinton, age 10: Yes, because he keeps building bombs!

From Meagan Fields: The United States should not care if other countries won’t help us. We are the country that lost the World Trade Center!


Q: How does all the talk about going to war make you feel?

From Jocelyn Washington, age 10: It makes me scared. My dad might have to go.

From Dallas Thomas, age 11: War makes me feel worried and scared because many people will die.

From Michael Nichelle: It makes me scared. Iraq might use nuclear weapons on us.


Q: Is there anything kids could do to help the situation?

From Meagan Fields: Kids can write letters to our soldiers and cheer them up.

From Savannah Morton: Kids can help by being good to their parents. Grown-ups have enough to worry about without us being bad.

From Michael Nichelle: No, because kids in Iraq are just as scared as we are.

From Jordan Collier: Maybe we could send letters to the kids in Iraq and make them feel better about things going on.


Q: Is war with Iraq the most important issue for our country right now?

From Jocelyn Washington: War is the most important issue because Iraq might have nuclear weapons that could destroy part of the world _ our part of the world.

From Germiria Fulford, age 10: I don’t think the war is the most important issue. We need to focus on Osama bin Laden and Sept. 11.

From Jasalyn Wheeler, age 10: I think violence is the No. 1 issue in our country. We need to do more about the drug problems in our country.


Q: Are there any other problems _ in the world, in our country, in your city _ that you wish adults paid more attention to?

From James DePappa, age 11: I think adults should pay more attention to the number of people dying because of crime. There seems to be more criminals now.

From Jordan Collier: I think adults should pay more attention to the homeless and the hungry.

From Corderrius Mason, age 11: And the elderly.

From Phillip James, age 11: And the poor.


Martha Irvine can be reached at mirvine(at)ap.org

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