“Sierra Leone’s Former Child Soldiers: A Longitudinal Study of Risk, Protective Factors, and Mental Health” (2010), by Theresa S. Betancourt, Robert T. Brennan, Julia Rubin-Smith, Garrett M. Fitzmaurice, and Stephen E. Gilman
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In 2010, Theresa S. Betancourt, Robert T. Brennan, Julia Rubin-Smith, Garrett M. Fitzmaurice, and Stephen E. Gliman, published “Sierra Leone’s Former Child Soldiers: A Longitudinal Study of Risk, Protective Factors, and Mental Health” in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The paper describes the results of a longitudinal study of former Sierra Leone child soldiers that examines how protective and risk factors affect children’s post-conflict mental health outcomes over several years of development. Researchers from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, conducted the study in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee and the Post-Conflict Reintegration Initiative for Development and Empowerment in Sierra Leone. The study investigated processes that affected the development of 260 former child soldiers at three points in time post-conflict. The authors found that besides war experience, post-conflict factors such as discrimination and community acceptance contribute to the mental health of former child soldiers. Their results have helped intervention programs focus on post-conflict factors to heal children from the harmful effects of war.