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Arch Hellen Med, 33(1), January-February 2016, 64-72


The psychological reactions of children and adolescents
who experienced bombing and political and military conflict in Palestine

A. Stathopoulou,1 G. Papadatos,1 D. Anagnostopoulos2
1Faculty of Primary Education, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens,
2Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

OBJECTIVE To investigate the effects of hostilities and continuous political and military violence on children and adolescents, and the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

METHOD The study participants study were 377 Palestinian children of both sexes, aged 9–15 years, of which 203 were living in the Gaza Strip and 174 in the area of the West Bank of Palestine, with a control group of 195 Greek schoolchildren. Three instruments were used: (a) The Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents (CAPS-CA), which is classified into three subscales ("re-experiencing of the event", "numbing of responsiveness" and "increased arousal"), (b) the questionnaire Family Inventory of Political Stressors (FIPS), and (c) the subscales "anxiety/depression" and "withdrawal/depression" of the self-reported questionnaire for children and adolescents (Youth Self Report, YSR).

RESULTS Children and adolescents in the sample from the Gaza Strip, where the trauma is more intense, exhibited symptoms of PTSD in the highest rate and the same symptoms were reported in smaller percentages in children and adolescents from the West Bank. Almost all the participants from the Palestinian areas were worried about the safety of their family members and almost half of them said that a family member, relative or close friend had been killed for political reasons. An increased rate of psychological problems was observed in girls at the age of 10 and 13 years. Children and adolescents from Greece, who had not experienced similar traumatic events, showed no symptoms of PTSD, but an increase was observed in psychological problems in girls with increasing age.

CONCLUSIONS The intensity of the traumatic experience is the strongest predictor for the occurrence symptoms of PTSD and psychological problems in children and adolescents.

Key words: Cognitive, Emotional development, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Trauma.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine