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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 367545, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1100/2012/367545
Research Article

Mental Health among Former Child Soldiers and Never-Abducted Children in Northern Uganda

Department of Developmental and Social Psychology, University of Padova, via Venezia 8, 35131 Padova, Italy

Received 24 October 2011; Accepted 20 December 2011

Academic Editors: W. M. Bahk and T. Kushnir

Copyright © 2012 Ughetta Moscardino et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The present study aimed to evaluate posttraumatic stress symptoms, psychological distress, and emotional and behavioral problems in former Ugandan child soldiers in comparison with civilian children living in the same conflict setting. Participants included 133 former child soldiers and 101 never-abducted children in northern Uganda, who were interviewed about exposure to traumatic war-related experiences, posttraumatic stress symptoms, psychological distress, and emotional and behavioral problems. Results indicated that former child soldiers had experienced significantly more war-related traumatic events than nonabducted children, with 39.3% of girls having been forced to engage in sexual contact. Total scores on measures of PTSD symptoms, psychological distress, and emotional and behavioral problems were significantly higher among child soldiers compared to their never-abducted peers. Girls reported significantly more emotional and behavioral difficulties than boys. In never-abducted children, more mental health problems were associated with experiencing physical harm, witnessing the killings of other people, and being forced to engage in sexual contact.