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Children in the crossfire: The cumulative effect of political violence, parent-child relations, and individual characteristics, on the development of aggression (Children and War)
Start date: 04 Nov 2008, End date: 03 Nov 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

In societies around the world, millions of children experience political violence in the form of armed conflict as a fact of daily life. Most research on the psychological well-being of these child victims focuses primarily on trauma-related symptoms. However, these traumas are added to existing developmental risks children face due to individual, family, and relational factors. Among the most common childhood problems are aggression and oppositional behaviors, which have been suggested in the context of armed-conflict. Social learning theory conceptualizes violence as a learned phenomenon, developing through both direct and observational learning, making Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD) of particular interest in the context of political violence. ODD and CD are also associated with multiple interacting risk factors including quality of parenting. Attachment theory offers an intriguing formulation of protection and risk that links parent-child relations to children’s aggression. Indeed, the few studies that have examined the role of parent-child relations on the development of adverse psychological symptoms in children exposed to armed-conflict, have pointed to family dysfunction as a critical risk, highlighting the need to further understand the impact of armed conflict in the context of individual and family risks. Thus, the current proposal aims to examine the development of behavior problems in Israeli children living in a chronic state of political violence due to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, accounting for individual, family and child-parent relationship factors. It details a 2.5-year longitudinal study to examine the trajectory of ODD and CD as related to fluctuations in political violence, to further comprehend the short-term and long-term contributions of parenting, parent mental health, and attachment behaviors to the development and maintenance of these disorders in an environment of unpredictable violence.
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