Beyond individual war trauma: domestic violence against children in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka

To date, research on the psychosocial consequences of mass trauma resulting from war and organized violence on children has primarily focused on the individual as the unit of treatment and analysis with particular focus on mental disorders caused by traumatic stress. This body of research has stimulated the development of promising individual-level treatment approaches for addressing psychological trauma. In contrast, there is virtually no literature addressing the effects of mass trauma on the family and community systems. Research conducted in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, two long-standing war-torn societies, found that in addition to multiple exposure to war or disaster-related traumatic events children also indicated high levels of exposure to family violence. These findings point to the need for conjoint family- and community-based programs of prevention and intervention that are specifically tailored for the context of the affected society. In particular, programs should take issues such as poverty, child labor, and parental alcohol use into account in assessing and treating children in the aftermath of mass trauma.

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