Effects of war on refugee children from Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina
Herceg, Marko S.
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This study examined whether or not war related trauma has a greater effect on refugee children than non-refugee children. The study contained three hypotheses. The first stated that refugees themselves, because of their refugee experience, would report greater war related trauma, more dissociative thoughts and lower optimism than a matched-sample of non-refugee (but still exposed to war) children. The second hypothesis stated that girls would report greater war related trauma, more dissociative thoughts, and higher optimism than boys. The third hypothesis stated that scores of refugees would be correlated with each other, while not for non-refugees.;Fifty-six children randomly selected from Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina were studied during a summer camp experience. Thirty children reported they were not refugees and 24 stated they were. Children were brought to the summer camp by local, indigenous organizations. During the camp, children were asked to complete the Impact of Events Scale (IES), Life Orientation Test (LOT), and Children's Perceptual Alteration Scale (CPAS). Overall results indicated that war related trauma does have a greater effect on refugees than non-refugees. Overall refugee scores were higher in regard to intrusive thoughts than non-refugees; girls reported greater avoidant thoughts processes than boys and were more optimistic than boys, regardless of refugees status. The central finding, however, is that refugee girls not only accounted for the high scores in intrusive thoughts (when compared to non-refugee girls), but they also exhibited more avoidant thoughts and were more optimistic than boys. There were no group differences in degree of dissociation. Thus, refugee girls are impacted more and thus remain the most optimistic, results that thus far have not been examined in previous literature. A possible explanation discussed could be the refugee girls relationship with her mother, who herself, is a refugee and in most cases, a single (widowed) mother.