Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 213–224 | Cite as

Longitudinal Pathways Between Political Violence and Child Adjustment: The Role of Emotional Security about the Community in Northern Ireland

  • E. Mark CummingsEmail author
  • Christine E. Merrilees
  • Alice C. Schermerhorn
  • Marcie C. Goeke-Morey
  • Peter Shirlow
  • Ed Cairns


Links between political violence and children’s adjustment problems are well-documented. However, the mechanisms by which political tension and sectarian violence relate to children’s well-being and development are little understood. This study longitudinally examined children’s emotional security about community violence as a possible regulatory process in relations between community discord and children’s adjustment problems. Families were selected from 18 working class neighborhoods in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Participants (695 mothers and children, M = 12.17, SD = 1.82) were interviewed in their homes over three consecutive years. Findings supported the notion that politically-motivated community violence has distinctive effects on children’s externalizing and internalizing problems through the mechanism of increasing children’s emotional insecurity about community. Implications are considered for understanding relations between political violence and child adjustment from a social ecological perspective.


Child adjustment Emotional security Community violence Political violence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Mark Cummings
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christine E. Merrilees
    • 1
  • Alice C. Schermerhorn
    • 1
  • Marcie C. Goeke-Morey
    • 2
  • Peter Shirlow
    • 3
  • Ed Cairns
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of AmericaWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.School of LawQueen’s UniversityBelfastUK
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UlsterColerainUK

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