Brandon Kohrt, a researcher at Emory University in Atlanta, U.S., just published an article with the Journal of the American Medical Association on the impact of forced military service on children. His research concludes that former child soldiers display greater mental health problems than other children.
While his work focused on Nepal, his conclusions could be applied to children throughout the world. The main conclusion:
In Nepal, former child soldiers display greater severity of mental health problems compared with children never conscripted by armed groups, and this difference remains for depression and PTSD (the latter especially among girls) even after controlling for trauma exposure.
The implications: that child soldiers need focused intervention and rehabilitation – specifically targeted for former child soldiers. Psychological rehab should include treatment for depression,anxiety and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
…the greater burden of mental health problems among former child soldiers supports the need for focused programming, which should include, but not consist solely of, interventions to reduce depression symptoms and the psychological sequelae of trauma, especially bombings and torture, as well as incorporate belongingness and income generation.
And for girl soldiers:
…girl soldiers may require focused attention, possibly for factors not addressed in this study, such as problems of sexual violence and reintegration difficulties.