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Pet Ownership and Children's Self-Esteem in the Context of War

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The aim of this study was to examine possible beneficial effects of pet ownership on the self-esteem of war-traumatized school children. The Croatian version of Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Scale was administered to three groups of elementary school children of both sexes, grades 5 to 8, all severely affected by war: dog or cat owners (n=295), owners of other kinds of animals (n=144), and non-pet owners (n=173). There were no differences between groups on basic socio-demographic variables. It was hypothesized that war-traumatized pet owners, especially owners of dogs and cats, would have higher self-esteem than war-traumatized non-pet owners. Sex and age differences in self-esteem were also examined. The results of the three-way ANOVA (Pet x Ownership x Sex x Age) showed that only age had a significant effect on self-esteem, with fifth and sixth graders having higher self-esteem than seventh and eight graders. Thus, the hypothesis that pet ownership could have beneficial effects on self-esteem of war-traumatized children was not supported. The importance of more precise measures of the pet-child relationship is emphasized.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279399787000101

Publication date: December 1, 1999

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