Child Soldiers

There’s an interesting article in this month’s British Journal of Psychiatry.

Written by Brandon Kohrt, it challenges what we think we know about child soldiers and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in this group.

PTSD rates in this group are high (33%) as compared with the general population (circa 10%). A longitudinal study showed rates fell to 16% over four years, which is encouraging. Supportive social environment (families, communities) was thought to be good for recovery.

What was new to me was the similarities between what we define as child soldier. There may be a degree of arbitrariness.

“Many youth identified by humanitarian agencies as child soldiers joined an armed group in their mid- to late teens. Yet, a 16-year-old who joins an armed group in Sierra Leone is labelled a child soldier, whereas a 17-year-old who enlists in the UK is not”

And before you say, ‘yeah, but the child soldier was forced’ I invite you to read the article. Even the assumption about abduction and force may be flawed.



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