Sierra Leone’s Former Child Soldiers: A Follow-Up Study of Psychosocial Adjustment and Community Reintegration
This is the first prospective study to investigate psychosocial adjustment in male and female former child soldiers (ages 10–18; n = 156, 12% female). The study began in Sierra Leone in 2002 and was designed to examine
both risk and protective factors in psychosocial adjustment. Over the 2-year period of follow-up, youth who had wounded or killed others during the war demonstrated increases in hostility. Youth who survived rape not only had higher levels of anxiety and hostility but also demonstrated greater confidence and prosocial attitudes at follow-up. Of the potential protective resources examined, improved community acceptance was associated with reduced depression at follow-up and improved confidence and prosocial attitudes regardless of levels of violence exposure. Retention in school was also associated with greater prosocial attitudes. Authors: Theresa Stichick Betancourt, et al. Child Development, July/August 2010, Volume 81, Number 4, Pages 1077–1095.