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"Children Are Not Children Anymore; They Are a Lost Generation": Adverse Physical and Mental Health Consequences on Syrian Refugee Children.

  • Author(s): Rizkalla, Niveen
  • Mallat, Nour K
  • Arafa, Rahma
  • Adi, Suher
  • Soudi, Laila
  • Segal, Steven P
  • et al.

This research examines Syrian refugee mothers' accounts of the physical and mental health of their children being affected by war traumas and displacement challenges. Open-ended audio-recorded interviews were conducted in Arabic with 23 mothers residing in Jordan. Using a narrative approach in the data collection and analysis, five major themes were identified: (1) children were exposed to diverse war traumatic experiences in Syria; (2) the escape journey and refugee camps threatened children's lives; (3) displacement and family stressors exposed children to poverty, hostility from local peers, educational and recreational challenges, child labor, and domestic violence (these three major themes were considered as trauma related variables); (4) children were not only directly affected physically and mentally by their own traumatic experiences and displacement stressors, but these experiences were mediated and magnified by familial interrelated processes, evidenced in intergenerational transmission of trauma, harsh parenting style, parental control, and parentification; and (5) adverse consequences of both trauma related variables and family processes directly and indirectly traumatized children and adversely impacted their physical and mental health. We examined the themes that emerged from the data in view of three theoretical frameworks and the impact of trauma in the family system on child development. To conclude, humanitarian organizations that provide services and interventions to refugees need to take into account familial processes and not only individual factors affecting refugee children's physical and mental health. Further implications on policies and trauma research are discussed.

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