FARC child soldier Colombia

A report released Tuesday by intergovernmental organizations and a local NGO details the psychological damages Colombia’s armed conflict has inflicted on its children.

The report, put together by UNICEF, the International Organization for Migrations, and the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, surveyed 1,681 Colombian children and adolescents, of which 961 were victims of the armed conflict and 720 were not.

The common psychological reactions to the armed conflict included anxiety, distrust, difficulty confronting adversity, and permanent fears of certain situations, but certain subgroups wer singled out in the analysis.

The report said displacement victims of the armed conflict had “more difficulty making constructive use of time, perceive less support from those around them, and have less resilience and less capability to confront adverse situations.”

Victims of sexual violence associated with the armed conflict were identified with a lower capacity to feel happiness, establish connections with parents and friends, and above all have difficulty with their identity.

Those who were formerly a part of armed groups involved in the conflict reportedly exhibit more aggressive and antisocial behavior and have a lower education levels and lower levels of respect for parents and authority figures.

Children whose mothers were killed, meanwhile, had a heightened tendency towards depression and anxiety, more difficulty having fun or feeling happy, frequent expressions of guilt and worry and lower levels of energy.

UNICEF representative Viviana Limpias told newspaper El Espectador that researchers hoped to “orient the institutions’ actions in Colombia to develop tools that allow the children to construct new life projections.”


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