Emotional reactions of children to war stress in Croatia

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1993 Jul;32(4):709-13. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199307000-00002.


Objective: The main purpose of the research was to assess the emotional reaction of children exposed to different levels of war stress in Croatia.

Method: Four hundred eighty children completed the Croatian version of the Child Depression Inventory (CDI) and the Mood Scale. Their parents and teachers also completed the analogue Mood Scale.

Results: Both groups, refugees and local children, showed more depressive symptoms on the CDI in comparison with the children of the same age assessed before the war in Croatia. Displaced children manifested more negative emotions (especially sadness and fear) than did their local peers, based on self-report as well as parents' and teachers' reports. Poor correlations were found between the children's self-report and their parents' and teachers' report on the Mood Scale.

Conclusions: The war stress had a negative impact on the emotional functioning of all children, especially the refugees. The findings of parents' and teachers' knowledge about their children's mood, more obvious in the group of displaced children, deserve special attention because of the increased risk for the children. It is recommended that we consider working with the parents, not just children, in promoting children's mental health during times of stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Croatia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development*
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Survival / psychology*
  • Warfare*