Family violence, war, and natural disasters: A study of the effect of extreme stress on children's mental health in Sri Lanka

Catani, Claudia; Jacob, Nadja; Schauer, Elisabeth; Kohila, Mahendran; Neuner, Frank
January 2008
BMC Psychiatry;2008, Vol. 8, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Background: The consequences of war violence and natural disasters on the mental health of children as well as on family dynamics remain poorly understood. Aim of the present investigation was to establish the prevalence and predictors of traumatic stress related to war, family violence and the recent Tsunami experience in children living in a region affected by a long-lasting violent conflict. In addition, the study looked at whether higher levels of war violence would be related to higher levels of violence within the family and whether this would result in higher rates of psychological problems in the affected children. Methods: 296 Tamil school children in Sri Lanka's North-Eastern provinces were randomly selected for the survey. Diagnostic interviews were carried out by extensively trained local Master level counselors. PTSD symptoms were established by means of a validated Tamil version of the UCLA PTSD Index. Additionally, participants completed a detailed checklist of event types related to organized and family violence. Results: 82.4% of the children had experienced at least one war-related event. 95.6% reported at least one aversive experience out of the family violence spectrum. The consequences are reflected in a 30.4% PTSD and a 19.6% Major Depression prevalence. Linear regression analyses showed that fathers' alcohol intake and previous exposure to war were significantly linked to the amount of maltreatment reported by the child. A clear dose-effect relationship between exposure to various stressful experiences and PTSD was found in the examined children. Conclusion: Data argue for a relationship between war violence and violent behavior inflicted on children in their families. Both of these factors, together with the experience of the recent Tsunami, resulted as significant predictors of PTSD in children, thus highlighting the detrimental effect that the experience of cumulative stress can have on children's mental health.


Related Articles

  • More children and women in refuges.  // Community Care;2/17/2005, Issue 1560, p15 

    Reports on an increase in the number of children and mothers fleeing to domestic violence refuges in England in March 2004, according to the "Survey of Domestic Violence Service" published by the charity, Women's Aid. Impact of witnessing and overhearing domestic violence on a child's mental...

  • Children and war: the work of the Children and War Foundation. Yule, William; Dyregrov, Atle; Raundalen, Magne; Smith, Patrick // European Journal of Psychotraumatology;2013, Vol. 4, p1 

    The Children and War Foundation was established after the authors' experiences following the civil war in former Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s. Many organizations tried to mitigate the effects of the war on children but few interventions were based on evidence and fewer were properly evaluated....

  • The Impact of an Emotional Self-Management Skills Course on Psychosocial Functioning and Autonomic Recovery to Stress in Middle School Children. McCraty, Rollin; Atkinson, Mike; Tomasino, Dana; Goelitz, Jeff; Mayrovitz, Harvey N. // Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science;Oct-Dec99, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p246 

    Following the program, students exhibited significant improvements in areas including stress and anger management, risky behavior, work management and focus, and relationships with family, peers and teachers. These improvements were sustained over the following six months. Students using the...

  • Students' Stress Linked To Class Environments. SHAH, NIRVI // Education Week;3/16/2011, Vol. 30 Issue 24, p5 

    The article discusses the study "Classroom Learning Environments and the Mental Health of 1st Grade Children," by Melissa A. Milkie and Catharine H. Warner, which focuses on the impact of classroom environments on the level of emotional stress in young students.

  • Child and Adolescent Trauma across the Spectrum of Experience: Research and Clinical Interventions. Tishelman, Amy C.; Geffner, Robert // Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma;2011, Vol. 4 Issue 1, p1 

    This article introduces the first in a two-part special issue focusing on child and adolescent trauma across the spectrum of experience. This issue examines current research and clinical interventions specifically geared toward an array of possible traumatic events in the lives of children and...

  • The Kids Are Not All Right: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHILDREN WITNESS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Wolfer, Judith A.; Hausner, Deena; Brown, Sue // Maryland Bar Journal;Jan/Feb2012, Vol. 45 Issue 1, p4 

    The article offers information about the effect of domestic violence on children. Topics include research about parental views regarding children witnesses of domestic abuse, the emotional and physical responses of children and adolescents to domestic abuse, and the role of the courts in...

  • Dissimilarity in Vulnerability: Self-Reported Symptoms Among Children with Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence. Georgsson, Anna; Almqvist, Kjerstin; Broberg, Anders // Child Psychiatry & Human Development;Oct2011, Vol. 42 Issue 5, p539 

    Children with experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) are at risk. Not all children, however, display symptoms, and differences connected to gender and age have been demonstrated. In this exploratory study, children's own reports of symptoms were used. The 41 recruited children, between 7...

  • Safeguarding, child protection and mental health. Hall, David; Williams, Jonathan // Archives of Disease in Childhood;Jan2008, Vol. 93 Issue 1, p11 

    The term safeguarding is widely used but its meaning and its relationship to child protection have not been precisely defined, It is a more inclusive concept than child protection and emphasises not only the diagnosis and management of child abuse as conventionally understood but also the...

  • A Study on domestic violence among the anganwadi workers and its mental impact on their children. Rashmi, R.; Anurupa, M. S.; Shubha, D. B. // Medica Innovatica;Jun2014, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p190 

    Domestic violence is a widely spread, deeply ingrained health and social problem among women. Domestic violence constitutes willful intimidation, assault, battery, sexual assault or other abusive behavior perpetrated by one family member, household member or intimate partner against another. A...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics