Supportive Relationships in Children and Adolescents Facing Political Violence and Mass Disasters
- 5 Downloads
Purpose of Review
We identify trends and gaps in the literature on the role of social support in the psychopathology and risky behavior of youths exposed to political violence and mass disasters. We also discuss the implications of recent research’s findings and suggest directions for future research.
Political violence and natural disasters inflict serious blows to adolescents’ mental and physical health and may have reverberating, negative impacts throughout the nested social systems in which youths develop. However, many adolescents are not adversely affected, suggesting the presence of resilience. While the beneficial effects of social support from close others are well documented, along with situations under which perceived support may even increase stress, the exact mechanisms behind social support’s protective effects have not been thoroughly studied. Different personality attributes and/or different concepts of the self may possibly contribute to—or harm—youths’ resilience.
There is considerable variability in research on adolescents’ social support in the context of political violence and mass disasters, stressors that may erode social support. Thus, further investigation of social support’s protective effects via longitudinal studies is highly important.
KeywordsAdolescents Social support Stress buffering hypothesis Political violence Mass disasters
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Gil Aba, Stephanie Knipprath, and Golan Shahar each declare no potential conflicts of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
- 2.Silverman WK, La Greca AM. Children experiencing disasters: definitions, reactions, and predictors of outcomes. In: La Greca AM, Silverman WK, Vernberg EM, Roberts MC, editors. Helping children cope with disasters and terrorism. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association; 2002. p. 11–33.Google Scholar
- 4.Pfefferbaum B, Weems CF, Scott BG, Noffsinger MA, Pfefferbaum RL, Varma V, et al. Research methods in child disaster studies: a review of studies generated by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; and Hurricane Katrina. Child Youth Care Forum. 2013;42(4):285–337.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 8.Rook KS. Investigating the positive and negative sides of personal relationships: through a lens darkly? In: Spitzberg BH, Cupach WR, editors. The dark side of close relationships. Mahwah: Erlbaum; 1998. p. 369–93.Google Scholar
- 9.Cohen S, Hoberman HM. Positive events and social supports as buffers of life change stress. J Appl Soc Psychol. 1983;13(2):99–125.Google Scholar
- 12.Gottlieb BH, editor. Coping with chronic stress. New York: Springer Science & Business Media; 2013.Google Scholar
- 14.Bronfenbrenner U. Ecological models of human development. In: International encyclopedia of education, vol. 3. 2nd ed. Oxford: Elsevier; 1994.Google Scholar
- 16.Comer JS, Kendall PC. Terrorism: the psychological impact on youth. Clin Psychol-Sci Pr. 2007;14(3):179–212.Google Scholar
- 18.• Fang L, Schiff M, Benbenishty R. Political violence exposure, adolescent school violence, and drug use: the mediating role of school support and posttraumatic stress. Am J Orthop. 2016;86(6):662–70. This cross-sectional study found that both PTS and school support mediate the association between exposure to political violence and risk behavior of adolescents, although the mediation pattern was slightly different for Jewish vs. Arab participants. Google Scholar
- 21.United Nations Children's Fund. Machel study 10-year strategic review: children and conflict in a changing world. New York: Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; 2009.Google Scholar
- 24.Carrolla JE, Gruenewald TL, Taylor SE, Janicki-Deverts D, Matthews KA, Seeman TE. Childhood abuse, parental warmth, and adult multisystem biological risk in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013;110(42):17149–53.Google Scholar
- 26.Barile JP, Grogan KE, Henrich CC, Brookmeyer KA, Shahar G. Symptoms of depression in Israeli adolescents following a suicide bombing: the role of gender. J Early Adolesc. 2012;32(4):502–15.Google Scholar
- 27.Dubow EF, Boxer P, Huesmann LR, Shikaki K, Landau S, Gvirsman SD, et al. Exposure to conflict and violence across contexts: relations to adjustment among Palestinian children. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2009;39(1):103–16.Google Scholar
- 28.Brookmeyer KA, Henrich CC, Cohen G, Shahar G. Israeli adolescents exposed to community and terror violence: the protective role of social support. J Early Adolesc. 2011;31(4):577–603.Google Scholar
- 30.•• Shahar G, Henrich CC. Perceived family social support buffers against the effects of exposure to rocket attacks on adolescent depression, aggression, and severe violence. J Fam Psychol. 2016;30(1):163. This article found that perceived family social support had the most beneficial stress-buffering effects on depression and violence following exposure to political violence. PubMedGoogle Scholar
- 44.Felix E, Afifi T, Kia-Keating M, Brown L, Afifi W, Reyes G. Family functioning and posttraumatic growth among parents and youth following wildfire disasters. Am J Orthop. 2015;85(2):191–200.Google Scholar
- 48.Banks D, Weems C. Family and peer social support and their links to psychological distress among hurricane-exposed minority youth. Ame J Orthopsychiatry. 2014;84(4):341–52.Google Scholar
- 49.Bandura A. Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-hall; 1977.Google Scholar
- 50.McGuire AP, Gauthier JM, Anderson LM, Hollingsworth DW, Tracy M, Galea S, et al. Social support moderates effects of natural disaster exposure on depression and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms: effects for displaced and nondisplaced residents. J Trauma Stress. 2018;31(2):223–33.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 51.Betancourt TS, Abdi S, Ito BS, Lilienthal GM, Agalab N, Ellis H. We left one war and came to another: resource loss, acculturative stress, and caregiver–child relationships in Somali refugee families. Cult Divers Ethn Minor Psychol. 2015;21(1):114–25.Google Scholar
- 52.•• Pagorek-Eshel S, Finklestein M. Family resilience among parent–adolescent dyads exposed to ongoing rocket fire. Psychol Trauma. 2019;11(3):283–91. This article supports the argument that different personality attributes may be one of the underlying mechanisms to the protective effects of social support. PubMedGoogle Scholar
- 54.• Liu J, Xia LX. The direct and indirect relationship between interpersonal self-support traits and perceived social support: a longitudinal study. Curr Psychol. 2016;37(1):73–81. While the authors’ findings lend support to the notion of the relational model of interpersonal traits and perceived social support existing across cultures, they also suggest that indigenous interpersonal traits may uniquely affect perceived social support. Google Scholar
- 55.• Osofsky H, Osofsky J, Hansel T, Lawrason B, Speier A. Building resilience after disasters through the Youth Leadership Program: the importance of community and academic partnerships on youth outcomes. Prog Community Health Partnersh. 2018;12(1S):11–21. This study highlights the need and importance of implementing post-disaster intervention programs to aid in fostering resilience among adolescents. PubMedGoogle Scholar
- 56.Garfin DR, Silver RC, Gil-Rivas V, Guzmán J, Murphy JM, Cova F, et al. Children’s reactions to the 2010 Chilean earthquake: the role of trauma exposure, family context, and school-based mental health programming. Psychol Trauma. 2014;6(5):563–73.Google Scholar
- 57.Barron IG, Abdallah G, Smith P. Randomized control trial of a CBT trauma recovery program in Palestinian schools. J Loss Trauma. 2013;18(4):306–21.Google Scholar
- 58.Gormez V, Kılıç H, Orengul AC, Demir MN, Mert EB, Makhlouta B, et al. Evaluation of a school-based, teacher-delivered psychological intervention group program for trauma-affected Syrian refugee children in Istanbul, Turkey. Psychiat Clin Psych. 2017;27(2):125–31.Google Scholar