Tsunami, War, and Cumulative Risk in the Lives of Sri Lankan Schoolchildren

This study examines the impact of children’s exposure to natural disaster against the backdrop of exposure to other traumatic events and psychosocial risks. One thousand three hundred ninety-eight Sri Lankan children aged 9–15 years were interviewed in 4 cross-sectional studies about exposure to traumatic life events related to the war, the tsunami experience, and family violence. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, somatic complaints, psychosocial functioning, and teacher reports of school grades served as outcome measures. A global outcome variable of ‘‘positive adaptation’’ was created from a combination of these measures. Data showed extensive exposure to adversity and traumatic events among children in Sri Lanka. Findings of regression analyses indicated that all 3 event types—tsunami and disaster, war, and family violence—significantly contributed to poorer child adaptation.

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