Longitudinal Study of War-Affected Youth

In 2002, in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee, Dr. Betancourt, director of the FXB Center’s Research Program on Children and Global Adversity began a prospective longitudinal study (LWSAY) on children associated with armed conflict and armed groups (CAAFAG) in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Follow-up data were collected in 2003/2004 and 2008. The sample includes former child soldiers and other war-affected youth. It was the first longitudinal study of its kind to involve a sizeable cohort of both male and female former child soldiers.

The study examines risk and protective factors shaping social reintegration and psychosocial adjustment in these youth over time. The scientific methods are informed by an ecological approach, which investigates individual, family, and community influences on child health and well-being. The research design and conclusions draw on current theory and evidence from the scientific literature on resilience in the mental health and development of children and families facing adversity.

Building on the longitudinal study, the RPCGA is currently working with international collaborators and local partners to develop an integrated psychosocial intervention for war-affected youth in Sierra Leone (the Youth Readiness Intervention/YRI) that will have strong links to job skills training and educational initiatives.

During the last wave of collection in 2008, assessments were given to any intimate partners (IP) of cohort members. While extensive analyses have taken place with the data of cohort members, the data from the IP reports continue to be cleaned and analyzed.  The undergraduate scholar heads data management for IP data set, prepares the data for analysis in the array of programs used with the project’s statistical team; liaises and meets with the statistical team regarding on-going and developing analyses; and performs descriptive data and simple statistical analysis of data set. There are possibilities for more advanced students to run more complex analyses on the data in coordination with statistical team. The student will also assist the statistical team with other organizational tasks and documentation efforts.