Theresa Betancourt, SD ’03, has dedicated her life to helping the world’s most abused and traumatized children. An HSPH alumna who is now associate professor of child health and human rights at the School, Betancourt has been working in some of the most war-ravaged parts of the world for more than a decade to trace the emotional lives of former child soldiers and other exploited youth. She is learning what it takes to promote resilience and healing, and working to identify the conditions that move deeply scarred children into meaningful and productive lives. “We need to devise lasting systems of care [in war-torn countries], instead of leaving behind a dust cloud that disappears when the humanitarian actors leave,” she says.
Her work, which draws on both large-scale numerical analyses and direct, one-on-one interviews with affected youth, helps guide the interventions of countless professionals working across local and international aid organizations, United Nations agencies, and government programs.