Sierra Leone's former child soldiers: a follow-up study of psychosocial adjustment and community reintegration

Child Dev. Jul-Aug 2010;81(4):1077-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01455.x.


This is the first prospective study to investigate psychosocial adjustment in male and female former child soldiers (ages 10-18; n = 156, 12% female). The study began in Sierra Leone in 2002 and was designed to examine both risk and protective factors in psychosocial adjustment. Over the 2-year period of follow-up, youth who had wounded or killed others during the war demonstrated increases in hostility. Youth who survived rape not only had higher levels of anxiety and hostility but also demonstrated greater confidence and prosocial attitudes at follow-up. Of the potential protective resources examined, improved community acceptance was associated with reduced depression at follow-up and improved confidence and prosocial attitudes regardless of levels of violence exposure. Retention in school was also associated with greater prosocial attitudes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Family
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Psychology, Child
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sierra Leone
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Violence
  • Warfare*