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Ciencias Psicológicas

versão On-line ISSN 1688-4221


MELS, Cindy. Between poverty and violence: how do daily stressors and exposure to violence affect Adolescents living in a war zone?. Cienc. Psicol. [online]. 2012, vol.6, n.2, pp.111-122. ISSN 1688-4221.

The negative effects of the violence suffered in situations of armed conflict on psychological functioning are well established. Nonetheless, it is considered that concrete psychological reactions result for the interaction of various risk and protective factors. This article focuses on two risk factors - the exposure to violent events and daily stressors - and their relationship with internalizing conducts (depression and anxiety) in adolescents living in a war zone. Through a clustered sample comprising 13 secondary schools in 4 selected zones in Ituri, a province in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, we gathered data in 991 pupils (13 to 21 years). By means of self-informed questionnaires we collected data on the variables sex, age, exposure to violence, daily stressors, internalizing and externalizing behaviors. We found boys and older adolescents to be most exposed to violence. Older adolescents reported more daily stressors compared to their younger peers, yet there was no difference by age. An interaction effect between exposure to violence and daily stressors predicted internalizing behaviors. Moreover, girls reported more internalizing problems than boys when daily stressors accumulated. We conclude that daily stressors are associated with higher symptom levels of internalizing behavior problems, particularly in girls, while the exposure to violence increases the effect. Despite violence suffered, the reduction of daily stressors in the life of adolescents affected by war could promote resilience and minimize to a certain extent the psychological symptoms caused by the stress accumulated by war.

Palavras-chave : depression; anxiety; adolescence; resilience; Democratic Republic of Congo.

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