The Psychological Effects of War and Violence on Children

The Psychological Effects of War and Violence on Children

The Psychological Effects of War and Violence on Children

The Psychological Effects of War and Violence on Children

Synopsis

The outgrowth of a conference planned as a response to the need for researchers and clinicians to develop integrated plans for addressing the psychological trauma of children exposed to violence, this volume's goals are:

• to summarize research on the subject with particular emphasis on the Gulf War;

• to use this information to formulate an outline of what current knowledge suggests are reasonable approaches to public mental health intervention; and

• to develop an agenda for future research necessary for improving clinical efforts in varying international conflicts.

A significant collection of diverse perspectives attending to a diversity of cultural and political contexts, the contributors offer many conclusions about important dimensions for analyzing the effects of violence on children. Suggesting informed approaches to public mental health efforts which can be implemented, the work presented here directs attention to the need for interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers and clinicians to better understand the effects of exposure to violence on the psychological well being of children and the optimal modes of remediation on individual, family, and community levels.

Excerpt

There is now substantial evidence that the legacy of family violence and trauma is passed down through generations. Adults who were abused as children are more likely to perpetuate this violence upon their own children (Cicchetti & Carlson, 1989). They face great difficulty in overcoming this history when dealing with their own families. Armed with this knowledge, psychologists and those involved in social policy have made great efforts to stop the cycle of violence within families. We as a society seem keenly aware that the violence within families can perpetuate violence on the next generation.

War and its attendant exposure to violence is something we visit on our children, as well. Around the globe, children are exposed to continuing internecine struggles. Even the end of the Cold War has not seemed to diminish the level of violence. Indeed, many of the ethnic tensions that lay dormant for so many years while Europe was divided into two major and opposing camps, have now come to the surface, often with a high degree of vengeance, violence, and savagery. And all this time, children are being exposed to the escalating brutality of war. Children are being socialized into a world where political violence and ethnic strife continue to be the means by which conflict is settled. If family violence perpetuates itself through a process of exposure, is it any wonder that larger scale violence continues to be present around the world, passed on from generation to generation?

Surprisingly, however, we know little about the effects of exposure of children to war and violence. Developmental research has investigated for some time the pattern of social and moral development in children, as well as children's changing understanding of ordinary events in their daily lives.

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