Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Community Perceptions as a Coping Resource among Adolescents Living under Rockets Fire: A Salutogenic Approach

Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Community Perceptions as a Coping Resource among Adolescents Living under Rockets Fire: A Salutogenic Approach

Article excerpt

Abstract: The study examines community perceptions as coping resources among youth living in areas under rocket fire in the south of Israel. Community variables were examined as potential moderators and mediators of emotional reactions to stress. Data were gathered during 2007-2009 from 284 Israeli adolescents. State anger and sense of hope were measured as stress reactions. Adolescent community perceptions were investigated using a measure which integrated sense of community coherence and sense of community, and included four dimensions: influence, meaningfulness, comprehensibility and belonging to community life (IMCB). Type of community and community perceptions (IMCB) were found to be significant in explaining state anger and hope. In addition, interviews were conducted with 10 key persons working with youth in Sderot and in the kibbutzim, which enable a better understanding of the community profiles in which teenagers were living under the ongoing stress situation. Community perceptions as coping resources among youth are discussed against the backdrop of the salutogenic and ecological theoretical frameworks.

Key-words: Salutogenesis; coping resources; community perceptions; adolescents; stress.

1. Introduction

We employed the salutogenic approach (Antonovsky, 1987) as the theoretical framework for this study which examines the relationships between community types, adolescent community perceptions and emotional reactions of youth who live under the stress of rocket fire.

The salutogenic model defines health using a holistic approach, and suggests not only asking about risk factors but also studying health-promoting factors (Antonovsky, 1987). One of the basic ideas of the salutogenic model is that life itself is a stressful situation. Sense of coherence (SOC) is a central concept in the salutogenic model explaining the movement towards health. When facing a stressor, people with a strong sense of coherence will be motivated to cope (meaningfulness); will see the challenge as understandable (comprehensibility) and will believe that they have resources for coping (manageability). Thus, the salutogenic approach provides us with an important lens through which we can understand what distinguishes youth who show resilience when the entire community is under stress.

The salutogenic approach is integrated with the ecological model of Bronfenbrenner (1979) to provide this study with a conceptual framework for analyzing the relationships involved in the psychological consequences of a continuing stressful situation on youth. Following Bronfenbrenner, we examined the community as an environmental resource, which could be an important factor in understanding coping in stress situations.

This pilot research was conducted among Israeli adolescents, who were exposed to continue missile attacks during 2007-2009. In the present study, we seek to gain insight into community variables as potential moderators and mediators of emotional reactions to stress. To that end, we first reviewed briefly the issue of adolescent's community perception. We then consider the operational limitations of this concept along with our attempt to build a new index refers to the adolescent's community perception (IMCB) along with the role of major relevant demographic factors such as gender and age. We then present the results of our empirical study.

2. Research Background - Rockets fire on southern communities in Israel

More than 3,000 rockets fell in the southwestern area of Israel between 2001 and 2009. About 190,000 citizens were living under potential threat of rocket fire, including the city of Sderot, and kibbutzim and moshavim located near the Gaza Strip. Life under these continuing attacks led many residents to leave the city of Sderot and the kibbutzim of the area, whether for short periods or permanently. The culmination of resident departure was in the summer of 2007, as a result of the escalation in fire (Cohen, 2007). …

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