…as discussed at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Washington, D.C., May 5, 2008…
New studies challenge the popular view that children forced to commit war atrocities end up as “lost boys,” incapable of ever leading constructive lives.
According to these new studies, and years of practical experience, war affected youth have been found to be extremely resilient, and respond well to targeted treatment through DDR programs, especially ones found at the local level.
Neil Boothby, an education professor at Columbia University conducted a study on former child soldiers in Mozambique and found this:
Participants often described trauma and depression symptoms that lasted for years after their release. Yet they had largely reintegrated themselves into civilian life. Almost all the boys and 80 percent of the girls were accepted by their families without problem after leaving the LRA. These kids typically regarded their time with the rebels as what God had willed for them.
Another study of children in Uganda by Judith Bass of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that group therapy was successful in treating the children.
In a 2007 study, her team adapted a form of group therapy for use in Uganda. Trained, local counselors delivered this therapy to 105 teenagers living in either of two camps for displaced persons. The youngsters had been abducted by rebels, had witnessed murders or had experienced other war-related traumas. Constant worrying, social withdrawal and other signs of depression substantially declined after four months of weekly therapy sessions.