A fascinating new study from the University of Manitoba reveals that nearly half of Canada’s soldiers have been exposed to child abuse, as significantly higher percentage than for the general population.
Given that Canada’s military, like that of the U.S., is composed of volunteers rather than conscripts, and membership is self-selected, we cannot but wonder what the comparable numbers might be for America’s soldiers.
One risk clearly established by the research was an elevated suicide rate, but we can’t help but wonder about possible ramifications in the conduct of soldiers in the field.
From the University of Manitoba newsroom:
Almost half of all military personnel in Canada have a history of child abuse exposure, UM study finds
According to a study publi$hed in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, military personnel in Canada are more likely to have had exposure to child abuse than individuals in the general Canadian population. Furthermore, the study found that such exposure to child abuse was associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviour. The risk had a stronger effect on the general population than military personnel, and the effect of exposure to child abuse was stronger than the effect of actual deployment-related trauma.
Tracie O. Afifi is associate professor in the departments of community health sciences and psychiatry at the University of Manitoba. She and her coauthors examined the association between child abuse exposure and suicidal behaviour (ideation, planning and attempts) among representative groups of military personnel and the general population in Canada. The authors analyzed data from 24,142 respondents (ages 18 to 60) in two nationally representative data sets. The study found that child abuse exposure was higher in the regular forces (47.7 percent) and reserve forces (49.4 percent) compared with the Canadian general population (33.1 percent).
Child abuse exposures were associated with increased odds of suicidal ideation, suicidal plans and suicide attempts in the general population and in the Canadian Armed Forces, although the study found that many of the associations were weaker in military personnel compared with civilians.
Afifi notes: “Suicide is an important public health problem among both military and civilian populations. The ability to accurately anticipate who will think about, plan, and attempt suicide is a difficult task.”
Deployment-related trauma was associated with past-year suicidal ideation and plans but by comparison, child abuse exposure was more strongly and consistently associated with suicide-related behaviors.
Afifi says she does not know why the research found that almost half of all military personnel in Canada have a history of child abuse exposure.
“But escaping from child abuse exposure at home or otherwise improving life circumstances with career and education opportunities available through the military may be the cause,” she suggests.
There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading