Traumatic events, social support and depression: Syrian refugee children in Turkish camps

Oppedal B., Özer N. S., Sirin S. R.

VULNERABLE CHILDREN AND YOUTH STUDIES, vol.13, no.1, pp.46-59, 2018 (ESCI) identifier identifier


The overall aim of the study was to document the nature and depth of the traumatic experiences of Syrian children living in a refugee camp in Turkey during the early stages of the civil war and examine their impact on depressive symptoms. Self-report questionnaire datawere collected from 285 participants, who were 57.9% females and on average 12.5 years old (SD = 1.28). Demographic information was gathered from their parents. The findings show that girls 13 years or older reported more depression than boys, while there was no significant gender difference among younger children. Even if exposure to several individual war traumas did not affect the level of depression, a cumulative risk index of the total numbers of traumatic events correlated significantly with depression. However, children with more traumatic experiences perceived higher levels of available social support, more specifically emotional support, which contributed to resilient outcomes in terms of reduced depression levels. The long-term sequela of war trauma on the individual's disposition to cope with stress, and through gradual, cascading effects on material deprivation, family interaction and ongoing daily hassles, was highlighted with suggestions for resilience and treatment-focused interventions.