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Emotional Health of Children with Parents Deployed to War Zones

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A new study has found that children in military families express more aggressive behavior when a military parent is deployed, according to this AP article.

The study was small—less than 200 children—but took into consideration the emotional and stress level of the remaining parent, which is an important factor to consider, experts say. Children younger than 3 did not exhibit aggressive behavior, while children 3 and up had increased rates of biting, hitting, and hyperactivity, says the article.

Although it is a small study, this is an interesting look into how war affects young children. I do wonder, though, how these children compare to other children who experience the absence of a parent after the age of 3, for military reasons or otherwise. This study compared those children with other military families in which a parent was not deployed. I also wonder if the child continues to exhibit aggressive behavior once the deployed parent returns.

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I actually did a research topic on children with PTSD during war-affected times and the studies out there have significant value given our country's involvement in the Middle East. Even more interesting, yet saddening is the growing rate of child abuse that occurs while one parent is depolyed at a time of war. The spouse who is at home, who is in no other circumstance abusive is more likely to abuse their child while their spouse is away. This could account for the displays of violence in children at school or day care- a cry for help and a mimmicking of the behaviour at home. It really is terrible when you look at the byproducts of families torn during war. Children really do have sophisticated defense mechanisms, and as teachers we have to know more about this topic, particularly in our current situation. War is not good for children, and the effects are lifelong. I encourage everyone to read on this topic- it will surprise you how many students of your own may be displaying the signs of PTSD, whether they are directly affected or indirectly (via the news or Internet). Thanks for approaching the subject. It really is a problem that needs to be addressed for the sake of the children who are in an age of global exposure.

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