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Art for earthquake children

Pupils returning to school in the parts of Kobe most affected by January's earthquake are using art to help them cope with the trauma. Teachers say that by painting pictures of the death and destruction which occurred during the earthquake pupils are slowly coming to terms with the disaster.

"Painting helps to reduce mental stress," one psychiatrist said. "It is important to prevent deep-seated fears from developing in young people's minds."

Other pupils are receiving more conventional forms of counselling to help them cope with the loss of relatives and friends. Counsellors say that a fear of earthquakes may result in sleeplessness, nightmares and other problems.

Older pupils have the additional problem of having to prepare for the crucial high school and university entrance exams which are taken during February. With many Kobe schools closed for two weeks or more some pupils say their chances of winning places at top high schools and universities have been blighted.

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