Under poverty and conflict: Well-being of children living in the east of Turkey

Buket Kara, Ayşe Bilge Selçuk

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    Children living in armed conflict zones are often exposed to political violence and other risk factors that may be caused or exacerbated by the conflict, such as poverty and family violence. If left untreated, these experiences may cause psychological problems throughout life. This study investigated the psychological well-being of children living in the low-intensity armed conflict zone in Turkey in relation to their adverse experiences. We collected data from 409 caregivers for their children (236 girls) aged 5.5 to 18 years (mean [M] = 11.50, standard deviation [SD] = 3.65). Caregivers provided information regarding their children's emotional and behavioral problems (internalizing, externalizing, and total problems; posttraumatic stress symptoms [PTSS]), income, family violence, and armed conflict experiences. Caregivers reported moderate levels of problems among children. The prevalence of borderline/clinical (T = 60) scores was 14.3% for internalizing, 12.6% for externalizing, and 14% for total problems and 7.9% for PTSS. Notably, almost all families resided in extreme poverty. The prevalence of family violence was 36%. Children were frequently exposed to conflict-related events. Hierarchical regressions showed that after controlling for the role of demographic variables and other risk factors, income predicted total problem level (βs =.10), and family violence (βs = .17 to .26) and armed conflict (βs = .13 to .20) experiences predicted internalizing, externalizing, and total problems and PTSS levels. Our findings suggest that family violence and armed conflict pose a significant risk to children's psychological well-being and inform intervention strategies and policy decisions to promote welfare in such disadvantaged contexts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)246–258
    JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2019

    Bibliographical note

    © American Psychological Association, 2020. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/ort0000426


    • Armed conflict
    • Externalizing problems
    • Family violence
    • Internalizing problems
    • Posttraumatic stress symptoms


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