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Submitted: 11 July 2011 Modified: 11 July 2011

Herdin Record #: R11-DMSF-07111111071467

War experiences and psychological symptoms among children in evacuation centers of armed conflict areas of Carmen, Cotabato


1Geraldine Jainar-Arendain Author

Publication Information

Publication Type:
Publication Sub Type:
Research Journal of the Davao Medical School Foundation, Inc
Publication Date:
Davao Medical School Foundation, Inc.


Specific objectives

1. Determine the demographic characteristics
of children in terms of age, sex, ethnic
group, residence, level of education,
parents' occupation, household income,
source of income before and after the
war, nutritional status, and perceived
health status;

2. Examine the extent of the children's war-related
experiences in terms of war-related separation,
bereavement, witnessing war-related violence,
war and combat exposure, and extreme poverty and

3. Find out the psychological symptoms among child-
ren aged 7-18;and

4. Determine the coping, mechanisms use by the resp-
ondents in dealing with the traumatic stresses
they experienced


This is a descriptive study of the war-related experiences, psychological symptoms, and coping mechanisms employed by the children who were living in evacuation centers a year after their families had been displaced from their homes by the 2000 all out war declared by the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). At the time of the study, sporadic encounters were still occurring in the home communities of the evacuees.

The primary data were drawn with the use of a structured interview schedule, administered by trained community-based data gatherers who could communicate the questions in the mother tongue of the respondents. The interview schedule incorporated modifications of Macksoud’s Childhood War Trauma Questionnaire and the reporting Questionnaire for Children (RQC) that is used by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Findings showed the prevalence of war-related experiences that have potential adverse psychological impact on children, as established by several studies done previously on children in war situations. These experiences include: bereavement; witnessing violent events; forced separation from family, friends, and neighbors; war and combat exposure; and extreme poverty and deprivation.

RQC scores indicated that the children were relatively well-adjusted, although more than half scored in the range of false possible, indicating that they may still be at risk of developing full-blown mental or psychiatric disorders should their life conditions remain stressful and uncertain. The children manifested psychological symptoms such as nervousness, troubled socialization, frequent headaches, and sleep disturbances.

The importance of social support agencies was magnified in the children’s perception of the coping alternatives available to alleviate the stress and hardship that they were experiencing. Other coping mechanisms this study turned up include religious affiliation, family-centered (bonding and maintenance) activities, and conscious attempts to improve social relations among peers and fellow evacuees.

This study recommended that concerned agencies should address the basic needs of the evacuees, especially for food and medicine. Rehabilitation efforts should be directed at enhancing livelihood opportunities for the family and providing safe water sources for the internally displaced. The peace process must also be nurtured in order to bring a lasting peace.

Physical Location

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