Parents are passing on unresolved traumas from the 1990s conflict to their children, with destructive consequences for society, Bosnian mental health experts have warned.
Parents who have been traumatised by witnessing ethnic cleansing, the killings of friends and relatives or brutalisation in detention camps during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina could unwittingly damage their children’s mental health – or even that of their grandchildren.
Experts working with victims of wartime sexual violence and former camp detainees say that the phenomenon of ‘transgenerational trauma’ and its consequences are already visible. At worst, it can result in depression, violence, juvenile delinquency, drug abuse or even physical health problems.
After the conflict, during which around 100,000 people were killed and more than two million expelled from their homes, Bosnia has seen a rise in violence in schools, delinquency and drug consumption among young people.
“Problems with studying, drug abuse problems and running away from reality are some of the possible problems [caused by transgenerational trauma]. We also have the consequences of tendencies towards prostitution and alcoholism,” Branka Antic-Stauber, president of the Women Power association, who works with women from Srebrenica, where the worst wartime massacres took place, told BIRN.
Traumas and stress in children can also cause health problems such as high blood pressure or even cancer, Antic-Stauber added.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 10 per cent of Bosnia’s estimated 3.8 million population is still suffering from wartime traumas…
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