Exposure of children to war and terrorism: A Review

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This article reviews the impact of direct and indirect exposure to war and terrorism on children's mental health. Although both direct and indirect exposure place children at risk of adjustment problems, the literature also provides evidence of children's remarkable resilience in the face of the life-threatening events. An examination of factors that influence children's responses to war and terrorism indicates an array of internal and external factors that protect or put children at risk of suffering from mental health problems. Such factors include the child's developmental stage, gender, the intensity and duration of exposure, the extent of life disruption, the availability of parental support, and the surrounding culture. An examination of interventions for children exposed to war and terrorism emphasizes the importance of providing children with safety and a sense of security, as well as addressing basic needs and establishing trust with the child. Once these aims have been achieved, mental health interventions can be implemented to address posttraumatic symptoms. A variety of interventions have been used to help children exposed to war and terrorism, including relaxation techniques, art therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and supportive therapy. Although cognitive-behavioral therapy has received the most empirical support, other techniques are commonly used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-108
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Trauma
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Children
  • Interventions
  • Terrorism
  • Trauma
  • War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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