Eighty-four boys rescued by the Cameroonian army in March 2015 from Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group based in Nigeria, were initially silent. But that silence might be what helped them survive at the Koranic school from which they were rescued, according to a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researcher.

“Being demure, not speaking too much, being wary, is a good way to make it through a very frightening circumstance,” said Theresa Betancourt, associate professor of child health and human rights, in an April 2, 2015NPR article.

Betancourt said that the best thing for these boys now is to be in a “normalizing environment” in their home villages, with their families. “If they’re in their home environment, and with their own family, the chances of overcoming that indoctrination would be greater,” she said.

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