‘Tremendous resilience’ observed among war-affected children

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Children traumatized by war can still go on to lead normal lives, according to Theresa Betancourt, associate professor of child health and human rights and director of the research program on children and global adversity at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In an interview with published Aug. 21, 2016, Betancourt said that adult family members play an important role in helping children endure the trauma of living in a war zone. “The children see and experience war through the experiences of their parents,” she said, and they suffer when they see their parents suffering. But the soothing comfort provided by a parent can help them manage frightening events.

Positive relationships with caregivers and community members, as well as access to school, can help protect children from developing post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Betancourt.

While some children act out after experiencing trauma, Betancourt said that the majority do not. “In fact, there is often tremendous resilience observed among war-affected children, with many able to overcome trauma and lead a normal life,” she said.