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Armed conflict affects at least one in six children worldwide.1 The number of child fatalities in areas of armed conflict is difficult to establish. Children may die directly from trauma. However, it is thought that even more die from starvation or infections following armed conflict in an area.1 Children who lose their parents in armed conflict are far more likely to develop infections or die from starvation. As well as experiencing direct injuries, children may be affected in many ways. Health and educational facilities are often destroyed during armed conflict. The psychological impact of witnessing armed conflict is increasingly being recognised as a major problem for children.2 3 The aim of this editorial is to highlight both the problem and approaches to address the problem.
A systematic review of papers on the mental health of children and adolescents in Middle East, up to 2010 identified 71 papers.3 The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children and adolescents was found to be 23%–70% in Palestine, 10%–30% in Iraq and 5%–8% in Israel.3 Studies in Rwanda following the genocide in 1994 detected rates of PTSD in children and adolescents of 54%–62%.4 Mental health disorders are clearly a significant problem for young people and children in areas of armed conflict.
Concern has been raised that children exposed to armed conflict are …
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