Political violence and mental health of Bedouin children in the West Bank, Palestine: a cross-sectional study.


The Bedouin population is among the most vulnerable in Palestine, subject to forced relocation and lacking basic necessities, including water and electricity. To our knowledge, there are no studies on the mental health of Palestinian Bedouin children. A cross-sectional household survey was conducted examining exposures to traumatic events and mental health among 455 refugee children between the ages of 5-16 years old, and randomly selected from 18 Bedouin communities throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Mental health status was measured using the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. Based on reports by mothers, teachers and children, 44% of the participants in the study had a probable psychiatric disorder. Exposure to traumatic events, fair/poor maternal self-rated mental health, and younger age were positively associated with child mental health problems. The findings highlight the importance of maternal mental health as a contributing factor affecting children’s vulnerability. Bedouin mothers and their children need immediate psychosocial intervention, as well as the protection of their basic human rights.