, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 237-246

Children Exposed to War/Terrorism

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Abstract

This paper reviews the prevalence of psychological morbidities in children who have been exposed to war-related traumas or terrorism as well as the diversity of war-related casualties and their associated psychological responses. The psychological responses to war-related stressors are categorized as (1) little or no reaction, (2) acute emotional and behavioral effects, and (3) long-term effects. Specific categories of war-related casualties discussed include refugee status, traumatic bereavement, effects of parental absence, and child soldiers. Psychological responses associated with terrorism and bioterrorism are presented. Lastly, mediators of the psychological response to war-related stressors are discussed, to include exposure effects, gender effects, parental, family and social factors, and child-specific factors. Children exposed to war-related stressors experience a spectrum of psychological morbidities including posttraumatic stress symptomatology, mood disorders, externalizing and disruptive behaviors, and somatic symptoms determined by exposure dose effect. Specific questions for future research are identified.