Category Archives: Psychology of Terrorism

4 Key Aspects of the Long-term Effects of Terrorism

Aspect #1 – Effects on Preschool Children
The first aspect of the long term effects of terrorism on children is the effects on preschool children.  As you know, the preschool children in the YMCA daycare next to the Federal Building were directly affected by the bombing.  Although none of these children were critically injured, most sustained multiple cuts and bruises from falling debris.

Six months after the bombing, Gurwitch and his colleagues evaluated these children for symptoms of post-traumatic stress.  The evaluations found that even infants and very young toddlers displayed many PTS symptoms.  Extensive posttraumatic play and peer discussion about the events occurred.  Across the age range, researchers noted hyperarousal and increased startle responses.

Additionally, disturbances in functioning such as sleep problems, increased irritability, and regressive behaviors such as a return to a pacifier or bottle were observed.  Rather than avoiding activities or people that reminded them of the bomb, infants and preschoolers welcomed opportunities to interact with staff and first responders, as well as chances to play games reminiscent of the bombing.  However, researchers noted that restricted range of affect, and a sense of a foreshortened future, both common symptoms of PTS, were relatively absent from the young children.

In a connected study, Gurwitch and his colleagues interviewed the parents of these same children.  The researchers observed that although the parents were aware of the symptoms of PTS, they tended to underreport the symptoms in their children.

For Aspect 2, 3, and 4 go to Psychology of Terrorism course.

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