Examining the Impact
of Terrorism on Children
University of Leicester
In September 2002 Amnesty International reported that both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were increasingly targeting children. The report claimed that over 320 young people under the age of 18 (the majority Palestinians) had been killed during two years of conflict (BBC News, 2002). We are all too familiar with the defensive adage that it is unavoidable that innocent civilians will get killed in a war situation. The tragedy of terrorism and political violence is that the most innocent victims are those who are too young to have made an informed choice, if partiality is to be forced upon us, about whether they support the cause of the activist, the target or any other alternative. The statistics on the number of children killed offered by Amnesty International, UNICEF and other organisations worldwide are only an indicator of the damage that situations of violence and terror inflict on children. For every child killed it is very likely that hundreds more suffer physical and psychological damage. The purpose of this chapter is to examine how terrorism might impact on the psychological well-being of children and young people.
By and large, researchers have neglected to examine the impact of terrorism on children, which makes it very difficult indeed to draw on any lessons that have already been learned. Having said this, however, there are other areas of psychosocial development that it is possible to draw