Skip to main content
Log in

Across six nations: Stressful events in the lives of children

  • Articles
  • Published:
Child Psychiatry and Human Development Aims and scope Submit manuscript


A total of 1,729 children (2nd–9th grades) in South Africa, Iceland, Poland, Australia, the U.K., and the U.S.A. rated 20 events in terms of how upsetting they are. Save in Poland, the ratings were in close agreement (r, .85–.97), placing the loss of parent at the top and a new baby sibling at the bottom. In Poland, the baby's arrival led the list. Even so, what was seen as quite upsetting fell everywhere in the same two categories—experiences that threaten one's sense of security and those that occasion personal denigration and embarrassment.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Yamamoto K:Their World, Our World. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993, p. 127.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Yamamoto K, Soliman A, Parsons J, Davis OL Jr: Voices in unison: Stressful events in the lives of children in six countries.J Child Psychol Psychiat 28: 855–864, 1987.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Anthony EJ: A risk vulnerability intervention model for children of psychotic parents. in:The Child in His Family, vol. 3, Anthony EJ, Koupernik C (Eds). New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1974, pp. 99–121.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Yamamoto K, Felsenthal, HM: Stressful experiences of children: Professional judgments.Psychological Reports 50: 1087–1093, 1982.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Information Please Almanac, 1993, 46th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. [The figures are for 1990.]

  6. Yamamoto K: Children's ratings of the stressfulness of experiences.Developmental Psychol 15:581–582, 1979. [The results reported in this study have since been found to correlate quite closely with those of later inquiries with differing groups of U.S. children conducted in 1984 (Yamamoto K, Byrnes DA: Classroom social status, ethnicity, and ratings of stressful events.J Educ Res 77:283–286) and in 1987 (see No. 14). The correlation coefficients of scale values were 0.98, 0.97, and 0.97 among the three groups. Hence, the original figures can still serve as a convenient anchor for comparison.]

    Google Scholar 

  7. Yamamoto K, Whittaker J, Davis OL Jr: Stressful events in the lives of U.K. children: A glimpse. Under review.

  8. Yamamoto K, Hergeirsdottir R, Sigurdardottir M, Sigurdardottir AD: In the land of ice and fire: Stressful events in the lives of Iceland children.Scandinavian J of Educ Research 39: 73–81, 1995.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Yamamoto K, van der Westhuisen PC, Davis, OL Jr: South African children and stressful events: A glimpse into a land of diversity. Under review.

  10. Gersten JC, Langner TS, Eisenberg JG, Orzeck L: Child behavior and life events: Undesirable change or change per se?, inStressful Life Events, Dohrenwend BS, Dohrenwend BP (Eds.). New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1974, Pp. 159–170.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Edwards AL:Techniques of Attitude Scale Construction. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1957.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Yamamoto K, Phillips JA: Filipino children's ratings of the stressfulness of experiences.J Early Adolescence 1: 397–406, 1981.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Yamamoto K, Davis OL Jr: Views of Japanese and American children concerning stressful experiences.J Social Psychol 116: 163–171, 1982.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Yamamoto K, Byrnes DA: Primary children's ratings of the stressfulness of experiences.J Res in Childhood Educ 2: 117–121, 1987.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Steven S:The Poles. New York: Macmillan, 1982, p.355.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Ibid., pp. 354–355.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Nelson HD:Poland, A Country Study, 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1983, p. 107.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Steven S,op. cit., p. 329.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Smolar A: The rich and the powerful, inPoland, Brumburg A (Ed). New York: Random House, 1983, pp. 42–53. Quoted, p. 44.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Steven S.,op. cit, p. 333.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Scherer MW, Nakamura CY: A Fear Survey for Children (FSS-FC): A factor analytic comparison with Manifest Anxiety (CMAS).Behav Res & Therapy 6: 173–182, 1968.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Ollendick TH: Reliability and validity of the Revised Fear Survey Schedule for Children (FSSC-R).Behav Res & Therapy 21: 685–692, 1983.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Westman JC:Child Advocacy. New York: The Free Press, 1979, p. 409.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Yamamoto, K., Davis, O.L., Dylak, S. et al. Across six nations: Stressful events in the lives of children. Child Psych Hum Dev 26, 139–150 (1996).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key Words