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Iraqi children’s war experiences : the psychological impact of "operation Iraqi freedom" Al-Mashat, Kasim Mohamed

Abstract

This study investigated Iraqi children's experiences of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and the meaning that the war had for them given their cultural context. Specifically, the study focused on the war experiences of children from the Northern town of Mosul who were exposed to both the missile bombardments during the war and to the fighting that ensued afterwards. In order to better understand the nature of war trauma in children, this study explored the children's perceptions of war experiences and the way in which they made sense of it. In this qualitative study, two focus groups were employed to interview a total of 12 children between the ages of 9 and 13. The children elaborated on either the drawings they made or on the letters they wrote about their war experiences. The Child's Reaction to Traumatic Events Scale (CRTES) was used to gather descriptive statistics on the children's levels of distress. General demographic information is provided. Results from the CRTES indicate a high level of distress amongst the majority of the children even seven months after the official end of the war in Iraq. A number of themes emerged that pertained to the children's war expereinces, the meaning it had for them, how they coped, and their future hopes. Finidngs were consistent with previous litererature in the field on the psychoglical impact of war trauma on children and their reations to it. This study demonstrates the importance of ideology, faith, and culture in how children make meaning of their traumatic war experiences. Implications for research and counselling psychology are provided, and future research is explored.

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