Keene State College
Mentor: Dr. William Woodward, Professor of Psychology
Finding stability in an instable world: The effects of war-zone violence on the development of children
As early as being in the womb, children are affected by their environment. During each stage of development, children react and interact with the world around them and these experiences shape who they will become. Exposure to dramatic violence can have severe psychological effects as they develop and grow into adulthood.
The following is a literature review of the work done in regards to children living in war-zones and a brief examination of the first four stages of development according to Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. This theory is used in determining children’s varying levels of vulnerability to these acts of violence. Some areas that demonstrate this type of environment and examined in this research include Palestine, Cambodia, and Chicago, which has been labeled by psychologists as “Americas war-zone”.
In our increasingly violent world, children are growing up in conditions some of us cannot even imagine. Witnessing these acts at a young age affects how these children react to the world as they mature. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, among other psychological disorders that proceed from dramatic and often devastating events, can remain with these children through out their lives and take a serious toll on their quality of living.
The community, the family, and caregivers can take actions, to assure these children will be able to cope with any psychological damages that may have acquired through out their development. These actions must be implemented in order to provide the youngest victims of war-zone violence with the opportunities to better their lives and succeed when all the odds are against them.