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Psychosocial problems in refugee children victims of community violence in Gaza strip

Abdel Aziz Mousa Thabet, Sanaa S. Thabet


Aim: The aim of the study was to investigate the prevalence of mental health problems of children as a reaction to community violence and trauma (depression, anxiety, and PTSD).
Method: For this study 61 children from 2 community centers in one refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Children administered self-report scales: sociodemographic scale, Gaza Traumatic Events Checklist due to factional fighting, Impact of Events Scale, Children Revised Manifest Anxiety Scale, and Children Depression Inventory.
Results: This study showed that children commonly reported traumatic events such as watching pictures of killed and wounded people on TV (90.7%), hearing the shootings and bombardment due to fighting in the streets (85.2%), and Hearing arrest or kidnapping of someone or a friend (77.8%). Mean IES was 25.04, mean intrusion was 6.89, mean avoidance was 9.46, and mean arousal was 8.69. Considering the previous cut off point of 30 and above for IES-13, 29.6% of children were considered as PTSD. The mean CRMAS was 28.24. Considering the cutoff point of 19 and above, 24.1% of children reported anxiety disorder. Mean depression was 14.28. Considering the cutoff point of 19 and above, 22.2% of children reported depression. The results showed that there was significant association between total traumatic events reported by children and PTSD and total anxiety. In addition, total anxiety was associated with total PTSD.
Clinical implications
The findings showed that community trauma was related to the development of PTSD, anxiety in refugee children in the Gaza Strip. Different levels of programs and interventions had to be described; such program can be put in place after children’s basic needs have been met.

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