Author(s): Barth A
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Abstract AIM: To make a survey of children's health and psychosocial needs after the 1992-1995 war in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. METHODS: Representative samples of school-age children (n=310) from 6 public schools in the Sarajevo Canton, their parents (n=280), and teachers (n=156) were surveyed by means of self-administered questionnaires and standardized psychometric scale (Ryan-Wengers Schoolagers Coping Strategies Inventory). The survey was conducted in October-November 1999, approximately four years after the war. RESULTS: At the time of survey, well-being of children in Sarajevo was still heavily impacted by many various unhealthy life conditions and psychosocial stressors. Many school-age children lived in unhealthy and dangerous environment, including overcrowded living conditions (40\%), unsafe playgrounds (68\%), and no access to sports fields (52\%). Most felt unsafe on streets (74\%), many (73\%) coped with one or more school problems, and even 84\% were ill at least once during the past 12 months. General poverty was the prime stressor (common variance explained: 23.5\%), followed by school- and health-related risks (common variance explained: 17.0\%). At the third place were family-associated risk factors impacting children's health and development, such as overcrowded living conditions and lack of social support within their own family (common variance explained: 10.5\%). Parents and teachers also lived and worked in stressful life conditions and were concerned for both their children's and their own well-being. Despite all that, most children tended to use healthy strategies in coping with stressful events in their everyday lives. CONCLUSION: The reinforcement of children with positive (healthy) coping skills and strengthening of their social support networks seems to be the most important intervention strategy to help the war-traumatized children in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This article was published in Croat Med J
and referenced in Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy