Effects on Children of Exposure to Political Violence: A Survey Study in Palestine and Israel


Principal Investigator: L. Rowell Huesmann; Co-Principal Investigators: Eric F. Dubow, Jeremy Ginges, Paul Boxer, Simha Landau (Hebrew University), Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)

Funding Agency

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Project Summary

The project seeks to advance our understanding of how persistent and extreme exposure to political conflict and violence combines with cognitive, emotional, and self processes to influence the psychosocial adjustment and mental health of children. We are studying those processes in two linked samples: Israeli (Jewish and Arab) and Palestinian children living in the conflicted areas of Israel and Palestine. We hypothesize that individual differences among children in our sample in exposure to extreme political violence will be associated with negative mental health consequences and problem behavior on the part of the children. However, we also hypothesize that there will be strong moderation of these effects as a function of parent-child relationships and peer relationships. This is a prospective longitudinal field study with a cohort-sequential sampling design to include children and adolescents at ages 8, 11, and 14 at the first assessment, who habe been followed annually for three years through the ages of 10, 13, and 16. Our samples have been recruited from communities located in Palestine and Israel, with the cooperation and collaboration of researchers based at Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. The assessments include interview measures for youth and their parents. Data collection was completed for the first three waves in the summer of 2010. We will be collecting a fourth wave of data as the respective cohorts reach ages 14, 17, and 21 (in 2013-2014). At that wave, we will examine emotional desentization to violent media content as well as biological stress response.