Children and War: Review of Foreign Studies



The article provides an overview of foreign studies on psychological status of children and adolescents directly or indirectly affected by hostilities. Key areas of research are identified, including the studies of the consequences of different traumatic experiences: active hostilities, bombardment, destruction and loss of housing, secondary traumatization through media, loss of loved ones, etc. Proceedings dedicated to links between the intensity of symptoms of PTSD and proximity to hostility epicenters, problems of refugee children. Results of longitudinal studies of the psychological consequences of prolonged hostilities are highlighted. Article contains analysis of psychophysiological, emotional, cognitive, psychosocial disturbances in children, caused by military traumatic experience in conjunction with the manifestations of PTSD such as intrusion, avoidance, dissociative symptoms. Authors also paid attention to studies devoted to the role of resources as mediating the influence of military traumatic experience on the child’s mind: sociocultural, family, and individual, such as resilience, optimism, ways of coping. An overview of some psychological assistance programs and new methods for assessing the status of children experienced the collision with war is provided.

General Information

Keywords: war trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), impact, mediating factors, children, adolescents

Journal rubric: Legal Psychology and Psychology of Safety

Article type: review article


Funding. The study was carried out with financial support of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, State task № 073-00038-23-04 of April 26, 2023: “Scientific and methodological development of a comprehensive program for psychological and pedagogical support and rehabilitation of children”.

Received: 28.12.2023


For citation: Aleksandrova L.A., Dmitrieva S.O. Children and War: Review of Foreign Studies [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2024. Vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 139–149. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2024130113. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Gindt M., Fernandez A., Zeghari R., Ménard M.-L., Nachon O., Richez A., Auby P., Battista M., Askenazy F. A 3-year retrospective study of 866 children and adolescent outpatients followed in the Nice Pediatric Psychotrauma Center created after the 2016 mass terror attack. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2022. Vol. 13, article ID 1010957. 9 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2022.1010957
  2. Abu Liel F., Berte D.Z., Russo S. Experience of Palestinian Children Facing Consistent Intermittent Traumatic Events: A Descriptive Phenomenological Exploration. Sociology and Anthropology, 2017. Vol. 5, no 1. pp. 91—99. DOI:10.13189/sa.2017.050111
  3. Altawil M.A.S., El-Asam A., Khadaroo A. Impact of chronic war trauma exposure on PTSD diagnosis from 2006—2021: a longitudinal study in Palestine. Middle East Current Psychiatry, 2023. Vol. 30, article ID 14. 8 p. DOI:10.1186/s43045-023-00286-5
  4. Bennouna C., Stark L., Wessells M. Children and Adolescents in Conflict and Displacement. In Song S.J., Ventervogel P. (eds.), Child, Adolescent and Family Refugee Mental Health. Berlin: Springer, 2020, pp. 17—36. DOI:10.1007/978-3-030-45278-0_2
  5. Buheji M., Buheji B. Mitigating Risks of Slow Children Development Due to War on Gaza. International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, 2024. Vol. 14(1), pp. 11—21. DOI:10.5923/j.ijpbs.20241401.02
  6. Çekiç A. Psychological symptoms in children who are victims of war and migration: Comparison of Turkish and Syrian students. Global Journal of Guidance and Counseling in Schools: Current Perspectives, 2022. Vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 150—157. DOI:10.18844/gjgc.v12i1.7457
  7. Samara M., Hammuda S., Vostanis P., El-Khodary B., Al-Dewik N. Children's prolonged exposure to the toxic stress of war trauma in the Middle East. British medical journal, 2020. Vol. 371, article ID m3155. 6 p. DOI:10.1136/bmj.m3155
  8. Barron I.G., Dyregrov A., Abdallah G., Jindal-Snape D. Complicated Grief in Palestinian Children and Adolescents. Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior, 2015. Vol. 3, no. 3, article ID 1000213. 6 p. DOI:10.4172/2375-4494.1000213
  9. Dyregrov A., Gjestad R., Raundalen M. Children Exposed to Warfare: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2002. Vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 59—68. DOI:10.1023/A:1014335312219
  10. El-Khodary B., Samara M., Askew C. Traumatic Events and PTSD Among Palestinian Children and Adolescents: The Effect of Demographic and Socioeconomic Factors. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2020. Vol. 11, article ID 4. 11 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00004
  11. El-Khodary B., Samara M. Effectiveness of a School-Based Intervention on the Students' Mental Health After Exposure to War-Related Trauma. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2020. Vol. 10, article ID 1031. 10 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.01031
  12. Farajallah I. Continuous Traumatic Stress in Palestine: The Psychological Effects of the Occupation and Chronic Warfare on Palestinian Children. World Social Psychiatry, 2022. Vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 112—120. DOI:10.4103/wsp.wsp_26_22
  13. Ghannam R., Thabet A. Effect of Trauma Due to War on Dissociative Symptoms and Resilience among Palestinian Adolescents in the Gaza Strip. The Arab Journal of Psychiatry, 2014. Vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 107—118. DOI:10.12816/0006760
  14. Israel-Cohen Y., Uzefovsky F., Kashy-Rosenbaum G., Kaplan O. Gratitude and PTSD symptoms among Israeli youth exposed to missile attacks: examining the mediation of positive and negative affect and life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2015. Vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 99—106. DOI:10.1080/17439760.2014.927910
  15. Hasanović M. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder of Bosnian internally displaced and refugee adolescents from three different regions after the war 1992-1995 in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Paediatrics Today, 2012. Vol. 8(1), pp. 22—31. DOI:10.5457/p2005-114.34
  16. Hazer L., Gredebäck G. The effects of war, displacement, and trauma on child development. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 2023. Vol. 10, article ID 909. 19 p. DOI:10.1057/s41599-023-02438-8
  17. Veronese G., Bdier D., Obaid H., Mahamid F., Crugnola C.R., Cavazzoni F. Hope and life satisfaction in Palestinian children victim of military violence: The predictive role of agency, potentially traumatic experiences and symptoms of trauma. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2023. Vol. 146, article ID 106520. 10 p. DOI:10.1016/j.chiabu.2023.106520
  18. Pfefferbaum B., Nitiema P., Newman E. A Critical Review of Effective Child Mass Trauma Interventions: What We Know and Do Not Know from the Evidence. Behavioral Sciences, 2021. Vol. 11, article ID 25. 15 p. DOI:10.3390/bs11020025
  19. Stupar D., Stevanovic D., Vostanis P. et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms among trauma-exposed adolescents from low- and middle-income countries. Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health, 2021. Vol. 15, article ID 26. 10 p. DOI:10.1186/s13034-021-00378-2
  20. Biset G., Goshiye D., Melesse N., Tsehay M. Post-traumatic stress disorders among children and adolescents in conflict-affected zones of Amhara region, February 2022. Frontiers in psychology, 2023. Vol. 13, article ID 1052975. 6 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1052975
  21. Warren Z., Etcoff N., Wood B., Taylor C., Marci C.D. Preservation of differences in social versus non-social positive affect in children exposed to war. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2009. Vol. 4, no 3, pp. 234—242. DOI:10.1080/17439760902819576
  22. Llabre M.M., Hadi F., La Greca A.M., Lai B.S. Psychological Distress in Young Adults Exposed to War-Related Trauma in Childhood. Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology: the official journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, 2015. Vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 169—180. DOI:10.1080/15374416.2013.828295
  23. Punamäki R.-L. Qouta S.R., Peltonen K. Family systems approach to attachment relations, war trauma, and mental health among Palestinian children and parents. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 2017. Vol. 8, № 7, article ID 1439649. 15 p. DOI:10.1080/20008198.2018.1439649
  24. Qeshta H., Hawajri A.M.A, Thabet A.M. The Relationship between War Trauma, PTSD, Anxiety and Depression among Adolescents in the Gaza Strip. Health Science Journal, 2019. Vol. 13, no. 1, article ID 621. 13 p. DOI:10.21767/1791-809X.1000621
  25. Smeeth D., May A.K., Karam E.G., Rieder M.J., Elzagallaai A.A., van Uum S., Pluess M. Risk and resilience in Syrian refugee children: A multisystem analysis. Development and psychopathology, 2023. Vol. 35, no. 5. pp. 2275—2287. DOI:10.1017/S0954579423000433
  26. Thabet A., EL-Buhaisi O., Vostanis P. Trauma, PTSD, Anxiety, and coping strategies among Palestinians adolescents exposed to War on Gaza. The Arab Journal of Psychiatry, 2014. Vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 71—82. DOI:10.12816/0004117
  27. Thabet A.A.M., Thabet S.S. Coping with trauma among children in South of Gaza Strip. Psychology and Cognitive Sciences, 2017. Vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 36—47. DOI:10.17140/ PCSOJ-3-122
  28. Michalek J.E., Lisi M., Awad D., Hadfield K., Mareschal I., Dajani R. The Effects of a Reading-Based Intervention on Emotion Processing in Children Who Have Suffered Early Adversity and War Related Trauma. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2021. Vol. 12, article ID 613754. 18 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.613754
  29. Bendavid E., Boerma T., Akseer N. et al. The effects of armed conflict on the health of women and children. The Lancet, 2021. Vol. 397, no. 10273, pp. 522—532. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00131-8
  30. Scharpf F., Saupe L., Crombach A. et al. The network structure of posttraumatic stress symptoms in war-affected children and adolescents. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry advances, 2022. Vol. 3, no. 1, article ID e12124. 11p. DOI:10.1002/jcv2.12124
  31. Tol W.A., Song S., Jordans M.J.D. Annual Research Review: Resilience and mental health in children and adolescents living in areas of armed conflict — a systematic review of findings in low- and middle-income countries. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2013. Vol. 54, no. 4, pp. 445—460. DOI:10.1111/jcpp.12053
  32. Punamäki R.L., Palosaari E., Diab M., Peltonen K., Qouta S.R. Trajectories of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) after major war among Palestinian children: Trauma, family- and child-related predictors. Journal of affective disorders, 2015. Vol. 172, pp. 133—140. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2014.09.021
  33. Manzanero A.L., Crespo M., Barón S., Scott T., El-Astal S., Hemaid F. Traumatic Events Exposure and Psychological Trauma in Children Victims of War in the Gaza Strip. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2021. Vol. 36, no. 3—4, pp. 1568—1587. DOI:10.1177/0886260517742911
  34. Veronese G., Pepe A., Giordano F. Child Psychological Adjustment to War and Displacement: A Discriminant Analysis of Resilience and Trauma in Syrian Refugee Children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2021. Vol. 30, pp. 2575—2588. DOI:10.1007/s10826-021-02067-2
  35. Rolling J., Corduan G., Roth M., Schroder C.M., Mengin A.C. Violent Radicalization and Post-traumatic Dissociation: Clinical Case of a Young Adolescent Girl Radicalized. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2022. Vol. 13, article ID 793291. 11 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2022.793291
  36. Vus V., Shipley K., Lühmann T. Mapping and identifying barriers and facilitators to Mental Health and Psychosocial Support interventions for war-affected children. Polski merkuriusz lekarski: organ Polskiego Towarzystwa Lekarskiego, 2023. Vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 64—73. DOI:10.36740/Merkur202301110
  37. Michalek J., Lisi M., Binetti N., Ozkaya S., Hadfield K., Dajani R., Mareschal I. War-related trauma linked to increased sustained attention to threat in children. Child development, 2022. Vol. 93, no. 4, pp. 900—909. DOI:10.1111/cdev.13739
  38. Yeter Ö., Rabagliati H., Özge D. Threat of war on cognitive development of refugee children. East European Journal of Psycholinguistics, 2022. Vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 144—159. DOI:10.29038/eejpl.2022.9.2.yet
  39. Zaid N.M.A. Construction and Standardization of a Psychological Scale for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for adolescents and adults [Electronic resource]. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2022. Vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 514—527. URL: (Accessed 11.04.2024).

Information About the Authors

Lada A. Aleksandrova, PhD in Psychology, Leading Analyst of the Federal Coordination Center for the Provision of Psychological Services in the Education System of the Russian Federation, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology & Pedagogy of Distance Learning, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Psychology at National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Svetlana O. Dmitrieva, PhD in Art History, Leading Analyst of the Federal Coordination Center for Provision of Psychological Services in Education System of Russia, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Associate Professor, Dubna State University, Dubna, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 82
Previous month: 25
Current month: 57


Total: 31
Previous month: 6
Current month: 25