My research topic was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder found in child soldiers. This is a mental condition that is triggered by seeing or experiencing terrifying events. It brings back memories of trauma that brings intense emotional and physical reactions. This condition can last months, years, or be lifelong. Symptoms are normally flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety. People often feel empty inside. They become aggressive, hostile, irritable, self-destructive, and socially isolated.
There are over 300,000 children used as child soldiers, or guerrilla fighters (small group of combatants that use military tactics to fight a larger traditional military). All of these children have been abducted and forced to be soldiers between the ages of 9-12. These children experience traumatic events such as witness murder or are forced to murder someone. Sierra Leone alone has suffered more than 10 years of war that involved children as being victims to it or one of the main causes of violence. Once the war was over many of these civilians didnt want these kids to return to their homes, they often would threaten to kill them if they ever were to see them again. Many kids were able to receive some type of help and return home but, often moved away to avoid the hostility and discrimination from their home communities.
The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) invaded Sierra Leone from Liberia. It created a civil war that was brutal and sadistic. They claimed they wanted to end corruption and bring peace to the country, but often raided villages and abducted the children turning them into forced soldiers. They made them do/witness horrible things done to their families or other occupants of villages, tortured or raped them. The RUF, the local civil defence forces ( CDF), and the government all created child soldiers and took advantage of it.
During various stages of the war the child soldiers were slowly demobilized. Groups were created to help these kids.The psychological damage was wide spread. Many had conditions of somatization, depression, PTSD/ malignant PTSD. Since they are younger they are in an impressionable formative period, which has caused a lot of these kids scarring of their developing personalities. The PTSD rate of children in the war was measured at 48%. In most cases the PTSD was chronic because it was years later they were able to get help after coming back from captivity.