The Homeland War in
“After World War II until the beginning of the Homeland War in 1991, most children in
Aida Mujkic, M.D., of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and colleagues studied Croatian children from birth through age 19 who died of weapon-related injuries between 1986 and 2005. Statistics were obtained from
Compared with the period before the war, rates of homicide and suicide with weapons more than tripled during the war—from .22 to .73 homicides and .51 to 1.64 suicides per 100,000 children. Unintentional weapon-related deaths also increased by more than six-fold, from .25 to 1.63 per 100,000 children.
“These increases persisted for five years following the end of the war and decreased more than five years after the war,” the authors write. Weapons-related deaths in the early postwar period—1996 to 2000—remained more than twice as high as before the war, and the weapon-related suicide rate remained more than three times that of the pre-war period. Homicide and unintentional injury deaths decreased significantly in the late post-war period, 2001 to 2005, and suicide rates were the same as in the pre-war period. The number of children who died from causes other than weapons did not change over the course of the study.
“Programs that focus on the prevention of weapon-related injuries should be integrated into programs that assist countries in rebuilding after political unrest,” the authors conclude. “The combination of psychological effects of war on children with an increased presence of weapons may present a particularly important area for prevention.”
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008; 162:140-144.