Current Psychiatry Reports

, 18:79 | Cite as

Children’s Mental Health in the Context of Terrorist Attacks, Ongoing Threats, and Possibilities of Future Terrorism

  • Jonathan S. ComerEmail author
  • Laura J. Bry
  • Bridget Poznanski
  • Alejandra M. Golik
Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry (B Pfefferbaum, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry


Over the past two decades, the field has witnessed tremendous advances in our understanding of terrorism and its impacts on affected youth. It is now well established that a significant proportion of exposed youth show elevated PTSD symptoms in the months following a terrorist attack. In more recent years, research has expanded beyond confirming our understanding of the association between direct terrorism exposure and child PTSD symptoms by elucidating (a) links between terrorism exposure and non-PTSD clinical outcomes (e.g., externalizing problems, substance use), (b) individual differences associated with divergent patterns of risk and resilience, (c) the clinical correlates of media-based contact with terrorism, (d) clinical outcomes associated with exposure to recurrent terrorist attacks, and (e) exposure to extended contexts of uncertainty and the possibilities of future terrorism. Researchers studying the effects of terrorism and political violence on youth have increasingly examined a much broader range of regions in the world, affording needed opportunities to consider the generalizability of prior findings to youth living in different political contexts, in less developed regions of the world, and/or in regions with different rates of recurrent terrorism. In order to understand and, in turn, best meet the clinical needs of the majority of terrorism-affected youth across the globe, more targeted research on exposed youth is needed in developing regions of the world and regions enduring more recurrent terrorist attacks.


Terrorism Disasters Political violence PTSD Posttraumatic stress Resilience Media exposure Media effects Uncertainty Secondhand terrorism 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


Funding for this work was provided by the NIH (K23 MH090247).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict 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

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan S. Comer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura J. Bry
    • 1
  • Bridget Poznanski
    • 1
  • Alejandra M. Golik
    • 1
  1. 1.Mental Health Interventions and Technology (MINT) Program, Center for Children and Families, Department of PsychologyFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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