Skip to main content


Children and Political Violence

Ed Cairns

ISBN: 978-1-557-86351-5 January 1996 Wiley-Blackwell 256 Pages


The post-war world has become characterized by fierce new assertions of nationalism and sovereignty. Many regions - such as Bosnia, Somalia and Northern Ireland - are threatened by violent ethnic, religious and cultural strife. Almost daily on our television screens we see the faces of frightened children caught up in war, yet research into the effects of war on children is patchy and not well known.

Children and Political Violence provides a critical evaluation of attempts to answer questions about the impact of political violence on such topics as children's aggression, moral development, and interpersonal relations. Much of the material is concerned with children who witness, experience or participate in violent acts, and with the children's stress and coping in violent circumstances. Other chapters deal with the effects on the social fabric of children's lives of the loss of families, destruction of social networks, homelessness, and the challenge of ensuring that the next generation grows up to reject violence as a way of settling political disputes.

Written in a highly accessible style with many real-life examples, Children and Political Violence will be of broad interest to students, researchers and practitioners in child psychology and psychiatry, education, conflict studies and peace studies.

Series Editor's Preface.


1. Introduction.

2. Stress and Coping.

3. Everyday Life.

4. Politics - Learning and Doing.

5. Making a Difference.

6. Future Research Contents.



"Drawing on contemporary research on children in townships, refugee camps, settlements, urban ghettos, and other settings, as well as studies of young wartime survivors of the Holocaust and the British bombardment, Cairns synthesizes what is known and highlights what remains unknown about the consequences for children of the violence they observe and experience ... the author offers a provocative heuristic analysis that both synthesizes existing knowledge and frames important questions for further study." Contemporary Psychology

"This book presents a valuable comprehensive review and critique of the research literature relating to the effects of political violence on children." Morton Deutsch, Director of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, Columbia University

*First Comprhensive review of the literature.
*Critical evaluation of the existing research.
*Contains multidisciplinary sources.