Child Labor in Somalia, Psychological Problems


Children in Somalia are engaged in child labor, including in street work. Children are also engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in armed conflict. Due to high poverty levels and the inability to provide care for all family members, some Somalis willingly surrender custody of their children to people with whom they share familial ties and clan linkages. Some of these children become victims of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. The terrorist organization engages as well in the widespread and systematic conscription and recruitment of children and is the main perpetrator of using child soldiers in Somalia. Boys as young as age 8 were bribed or forcibly taken from their homes, schools, and the streets to serve as soldiers. Girls were recruited through bribery or by force for sexual slavery and domestic labor.

Children who have been psychologically abused suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, symptoms of post-traumatic stress and suicidality. Psychological maltreatment is most strongly associated with depression, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, attachment problems and substance abuse. However, psychological maltreatment that occurs alongside physical or sexual abuse is associated with significantly more severe and far-ranging negative outcomes.

Experiencing trauma in childhood can have a severe and long-lasting effect. Children who have been traumatized see the world as frightening and dangerous place. When childhood trauma is not resolved, this fundamental sense of fear and helplessness carries over into adulthood, setting the stage for further trauma.

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