'Palestinian youngsters at greater risk'
Terror causes trauma
Photo: Nati Shapira, Zaka
Most Palestinian children who have been exposed to trauma (72.8 percent) report of post traumatic symptoms, a new study on violence and its effects in Israel revealed. Meanwhile, Israeli children are less prone to suffer from post traumatic stress: Only 25 percent of Israeli kids that have experienced terror attacks reported of post traumatic effects in different levels.
The study, which has been conducted by Prof. Alean al-Krenawi of the Department of Social Work at the Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, was presented for the first time Wednesday at a conference on "Coping with Violence in Israeli Society" held in Eilat
Al-Krenawi's study included 1,000 Israeli children, half of them Arabs, and 1,000 Palestinian children, half from the Gaza Strip and half from the West Bank.
The research compared between the feelings and reactions of Israeli and Palestinian youngsters to violent incidents they have experienced. Prof. al-Krenawi attributed the differences in distress rates to the fact Palestinian kids reside in a war zone and are therefore at greater risk of developing depression disorders.
The researcher also stated that the impact of terror on both sides is expressed through a rise in mental problems and post traumatic symptoms.
'Ideologists suffer less'
"Palestinian children and adolescents in the West Bank and Gaza report of more serious mental states, and of more severe violence at schools," al-Krenawi said, stressing that the study also focused on Israeli kids in settlements, in Gush Katif prior to the disengagement and "in areas where there is daily and direct contact with Palestinians."
According to al-Krenawi, Palestinian children in Gaza are worse off than their counterparts in the West Bank in terms of response to trauma, due to the closure imposed on Strip, the political violence in the streets and the hunger they have been experiencing.
The study also showed that settler youngsters were less prone to suffer from trauma than other Israeli children, despite the daily encounter with violence and terror.
"People live in settlements because of ideology. The mental damage and the effect violence has on them are less significant then with secular children. The increase in the exposure of Israeli kids to political difficulties brought to a rise in the distress levels of youngsters that are less ideologist, but not in the case of those who have a strong ideological belief," al-Krenawi explained.