Young Children’s Experiences and Learning in Intractable Conflicts

  • Meytal NasieEmail author
Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


Children, as other members of societies involved in intractable conflicts, are continuously exposed to the powerful effects of these conflicts, because the chronic threat of violence dominates their lives. From a very early age, they are aware of the conflictual environment, absorbing information, forming concepts, categories, impressions, understandings, and preferences regarding the conflict and the rival. The present chapter discusses the personal experiences of young children in the context of an intractable conflict and the ways in which they learn about the conflict. In addition, it presents the content that young children acquire regarding the conflict in general and particularly pre-school children, focusing on the Israeli-Jewish case. The chapter concludes by arguing that these early conflict-related experiences and learning contribute to the continuation and preservation of conflicts.


Young Generation Collective Memory Society Member Political Socialization Israeli Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Meytal Nasie is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship.


  1. Abdolrazeq, Y. (2002). The Jew’s [sic] stereotype in the eyes of Palestinians: The stereotype of Jews in Israel by Palestinians of five age groups in three different environments. Unpublished master’s thesis, Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  2. Abu Hein, F., Qouta, S., Thabet, A., & El Sarraj, E. (1993). Trauma and mental health of children in Gaza. British Medical Journal, 306, 1130–1131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Al-Eissa, Y. A. (1995). The impact of the Gulf armed conflict on the health and behaviour of Kuwaiti children. Social Science & Medicine, 7, 1033–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arviv-Abromovich, R. (2010). Societal beliefs about the Israeli-Arab Palestinian conflict transmitted in national ceremonies – 1948-2006. PhD dissertation, Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  5. Augoustinos, M., & Rosewarne, D. L. (2001). Stereotype knowledge and prejudice in children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 19, 143–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barrett, M. (2007). Children’s knowledge, beliefs and feelings about nations and national groups. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bar-Tal, D. (1996). Development of social categories and stereotypes in early childhood: The case of “The Arab” concept formation, stereotype and attitudes by Jewish children in Israel. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 20, 341–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bar-Tal, D. (2000). Shared beliefs in a society: Social psychological analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Bar-Tal, D. (2007). Sociopsychological foundations of intractable conflicts. American Behavioral Scientist, 50, 1430–1453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bar-Tal, D. (2013). Intractable conflicts: Socio-psychological foundations and dynamics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bar-Tal, D., Abutbul-Selinger, G., & Raviv, A. (2014). The culture of conflict and its routinisation. In P. Nesbitt-Larking, C. Kinnvall, T. Capelos, & H. Dekker (Eds.), The Palgrave handbook of global political psychology (pp. 369–387). London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  12. Bar-Tal, D., & Halperin, E. (2011). Sociopsychological barriers to conflict resolution. In D. Bar-Tal (Ed.), Intergroup conflicts and their resolution: Social psychological perspective (pp. 217–240). New York, NY: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  13. Bar-Tal, D., & Ozer, I. (2009). How ethos of conflict is transmitted during Holocaust Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day by teachers of kindergartens in mix city? Unpublished manuscript (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  14. Bar-Tal, D., Spivak, K., & Castel-Bazelet, I. (2003). Collective memory of children in kindergarten (age 5-6) as a function of religiosity. Unpublished manuscript (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  15. Bar-Tal, D., & Teichman, Y. (2005). Stereotypes and prejudice in conflict: Representations of Arabs in Israeli Jewish society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Barzilay, S. (2012). Ethos of conflict as perceived by Israeli Jewish elementary school children. Unpublished master’s thesis, Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  17. Basu, B., & Dutta, N. (2010). Psychological changes of children surviving terrorist shock in Indian Kashmir. Journal of Child Neurology, 25, 1331–1334.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Becirevic, M., Roberts, R., & Baker, T. (2009). Children’s understanding of the war in Iraq: Views from Britain and Bosnia. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 14, 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ben Shabat, C. (2010). Collective memory and ethos of conflict acquisition during childhood: Comparing children attending state-secular and state-religious schools in Israel. Unpublished master’s thesis, Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  20. Ben-Amos, A., & Bet-El, I. (2005). Commemoration and national identity: Memorial ceremonies in Israeli schools. In A. Levy & A. Weingrod (Eds.), Homelands and diasporas: Holy lands and other places (pp. 169–199). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Betancourt, T. S., Brennan, R. T., Rubin-Smith, J., Fitzmaurice, G. M., & Gilman, S. E. (2010). Sierra Leone’s former child soldiers: A longitudinal study of risk, protective factors and mental health. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 606–615.Google Scholar
  22. Betancourt, T. S., McBain, R., Newnham, E. A., & Brennan, R. T. (2013). Trajectories of internalizing problems in war-affected Sierra Leonean youth: Examining conflict and postconflict factors. Child Development, 84, 455–470.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Blankemeyer, M., Walker, K., & Svitak, E. (2009). The 2003 war in Iraq: An ecological analysis of American and Northern Irish children’s perceptions. Childhood, 16, 229–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Burton, J. W. (Ed.). (1990). Conflict: Human needs theory. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  25. Cairns, E. (1996). Children and political violence. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  26. Carter, C., & Rice, C. (1997). Acquisition and manifestation of prejudice in children. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 25, 185–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Cohen, A. A., & Adoni, H. (1980). Children’s fear responses to real-life violence on television: The case of the 1973 Middle East War. Communications, 6, 81–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Connolly, P., Smith, A., & Kelly, B. (2002). Too young to notice? The cultural and political awareness of 3-6 year olds in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Northern Ireland Community Relations Council.Google Scholar
  29. Covell, K. (1999). Cultural socialization and conceptions of war and peace: A cross-national comparison. In A. Raviv, L. Oppenheimer, & D. Bar-Tal (Eds.), How children understand war and peace: A call for international peace education (pp. 111–126). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  30. Cummings, E. M., Goeke-Morey, C. M., Merrilees, C. E., Taylor, L. K., & Shirlow, P. (2014). A social-ecological, process-oriented perspective on political violence and child development. Child Development Perspective, 8, 82–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. de Jong, J. (Ed.). (2002). Trauma, war, and violence: Public mental health in socio-cultural context. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  32. Derluyn, I., Broekaert, E., Schuyten, G., & De Temmerman, E. (2004). Post-traumatic stress in former Ugandan child soldiers. The Lancet, 363, 861–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Devine, P. G. (1989). Stereotypes and prejudice: Their automatic and controlled components. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Devine-Wright, P. (2003). A theoretical overview of memory and conflict. In E. Cairns & M. D. Roe (Eds.), The role of memory in ethnic conflict (pp. 9–33). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  35. Dovidio, J. F., Kawakami, K., & Beach, K. R. (2001). Implicit and explicit attitudes: Examination of the relationship between measures of intergroup bias. In R. Brown & S. L. Gaertner (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Intergroup processes (pp. 175–197). Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  36. Dubow, E. F., Boxer, P., Huesmann, L. R., Shikaki, K., Landau, S., Dvir Gvirsman, S., et al. (2010). Exposure to conflict and violence across contexts: Relations to adjustment among Palestinian children. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 39, 103–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Elbert, T., Schauer, M., Shauer, E., Huschka, B., Hirth, M., & Neuner, F. (2009). Trauma-related impairment in children—A survey in Sri Lankan provinces affected by armed conflict. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 238–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Eldan, M. (2006). Imparting collective memory by secular and religious kindergarten teachers. Unpublished master’s thesis, Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  39. Fay, M. T., Morrissey, M., & Smyth, M. (1999). Northern Ireland’s troubles: The human costs. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  40. Feldman, R., & Vengrober, A. (2011). Posttraumatic stress disorder in infants and young children exposed to war-related trauma. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 50, 645–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Furman, M. (1999). Army and war: Collective narratives of early childhood in contemporary Israel. In E. Lomsky-Feder & E. Ben-Ari (Eds.), The military and militarism in Israeli society (pp. 141–168). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  42. Fuxman, S. (2012). Learning the past, understanding the present, shaping the future: Israeli adolescents’ narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University.Google Scholar
  43. Halbwachs, M. (1992). On collective memory. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  44. Handelman, D., & Katz, E. (1990). State ceremonies of Israel: Remembrance Day and Independence Day. In D. Handelman (Ed.), Models and mirrors: Towards an anthropology of public events (pp. 191–233). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Husain, A. S., Nair, J., Holcomb, W., Reid, J. C., Vargas, V., & Nair, S. S. (1998). Stress reactions of children and adolescents in war and siege conditions. American Journal of Psychiatry, 155, 1718–1719.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Israeli-Diner, G. (1993). Stereotypes of Arabs among nursery-school children. Unpublished master’s thesis, Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  47. Landau, S. F., Dvir Gvirsman, S., Huesmann, L. R., Dubow, E. F., Boxer, P., Ginges, J., et al. (2010). The effects of exposure to violence on aggressive behavior: The case of Arab and Jewish children in Israel. In K. Österman (Ed.), Indirect and direct aggression (pp. 321–343). Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  48. Landers, C. (1998). Listen to me: Protecting the development of young children in armed conflict. New York, NY: Office of Emergency Programs, UNICEF.Google Scholar
  49. Lange, M. (2012). Educations in ethnic violence: Identity, educational bubbles, and resource mobilization. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Lemish, D., & Götz, M. (Eds.). (2007). Children and media in times of conflict and war. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton.Google Scholar
  51. Lomsky-Feder, E. (2003). From agent of national memory to local mnemonic community: The school memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers in Israel. Megamot, 42, 353–387 (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  52. Macksoud, M. S., & Aber, J. L. (1996). The war experiences and psychosocial development of children in Lebanon. Child Development, 67, 70–88.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Mcintyre, A., & Thusi, T. (2003). Children and youth in Sierra Leone’s peace-building process. African Security Review, 12, 73–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Meijer, A. (1985). Child psychiatric sequelae of maternal war stress. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 72, 505–511.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Miljević-Ridjički, R., & Lugomer-Armano, G. (1994). Children’s comprehension of war. Child Abuse Review, 3, 134–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Moyer-Gusé, E., & Smith, S. L. (2007). TV news and coping: Parents’ use of strategies for reducing children’s news-induced fears. In D. Lemish & M. Götz (Eds.), Children and media in times of conflict and war (pp. 267–286). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton.Google Scholar
  57. Muldoon, O. T., & Trew, K. (2000). Children’s experience and adjustment to political conflict in Northern Ireland. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 6, 157–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Myers-Bowman, K. S., Walker, K., & Myers-Walls, J. A. (2003). A cross-cultural examination of children’s understanding of the enemy. Psychological Reports, 93, 779–790.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Myers-Walls, J. A. (2004). Children as victims of war and terrorism. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 8, 41–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Myers-Walls, J. A., Myers-Bowman, K. S., & Pelo, A. (1993). Parents as educators about war and peace. Family Relations, 42, 66–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Nasie, M., & Bar-Tal, D. (2012). Sociopsychological infrastructure of an intractable conflict through the eyes of Palestinian children and adolescents. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 18, 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Oppenheimer, L. (2006). The development of enemy images: A theoretical contribution. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 12, 269–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ovadia, G. (1993). Stereotypes towards Arabs of kindergarten-age children. Unpublished master’s thesis, Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  64. Papageorgiou, V., Frangou-Garunovic, A., Iordanidou, R., Yule, W., Smith, P., & Vostanis, P. (2000). War trauma and psychopathology in Bosnian refugee children. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 9, 84–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Podeh, E. (2002). The Arab-Israeli conflict in Israeli history textbooks, 1948-2000. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  66. Punamäki, R. L. (1982). Childhood in the shadow of war: A psychological study on attitudes and emotional life of Israeli and Palestinian children. Current Research on Peace and Violence, 5, 26–41.Google Scholar
  67. Rafman, S., Canfield, J., Barbas, J., & Kaczorowski, J. (1997). Children’s representations of parental loss due to war. International Journal of Behavioural Development, 20, 163–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sadeh, A., Hen-Gal, S., & Tikotzky, L. (2008). Young children’s reactions to war-related stress: A survey and assessment of an innovative intervention. Pediatrics, 121, 46–53.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Sagi-Schwartz, A. (2008). The well being of children living in chronic war zones: The Palestinian-Israeli case. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32, 322–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Sagi-Schwartz, A. (2012). Children of war and peace: A human development perspective. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 56, 933–951.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sears, D. O., & Levy, S. (2003). Childhood and adult political development. In D. O. Sears, L. Huddy, & R. Jervis (Eds.), Oxford handbook of political psychology (pp. 60–109). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  72. Shamai, M. (2001). Parents’ perceptions of their children in a context of shared political uncertainty. Child and Family Social Work, 6, 249–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Slone, M., & Shechner, T. (2009). Psychiatric consequences for Israeli adolescents of protracted political violence: 1998-2004. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 280–289.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Sprinzak, D., Bar, E., & Levy-Mazlum, D. (2005). The education system in numbers: 2005. Jerusalem: Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport Publications Department (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  75. Staub, E. (2003). The psychology of good and evil: The roots of benefiting and harming other. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Straker, G., Mendelsohn, M., Moosa, F., & Tudin, P. (1996). Violent political contexts and the emotional concerns of township youth. Child Development, 67, 46–54.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Tajfel, H. (1982). Social identity and intergroup relations. Cambridge, UK/Paris: Cambridge University Press/Maison des Sciences de l’Homme.Google Scholar
  78. Teichman, Y., & Bar-Tal, D. (2008). Acquisition and development of shared psychological intergroup repertoire in a context of an intractable conflict. In S. M. Quintana & C. McKown (Eds.), Handbook of race, racism, and the developing child (pp. 452–482). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  79. Thabet, A. M., Karim, K., & Vostanis, P. (2006). Trauma exposure in pre-school children in a war zone. British Journal of Psychiatry, 188, 154–158.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. Tint, B. (2010). History, memory, and intractable conflict. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 27, 239–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. UNICEF. (2009). Machel study 10-year strategic review: Children and conflict in a changing world. New York, NY: United Nations Children’s Fund.Google Scholar
  82. UNICEF. (2013). Syria’s children: A lost generation? Crisis report March 2011-March 2013. New York, NY: United Nations Children’s Fund.Google Scholar
  83. Wang, Y., Nomura, Y., Pat-Horenczyk, R., Doppelt, O., Abramovitz, R., Brom, D., et al. (2006). Association of direct exposure to terrorism, media exposure to terrorism, and other trauma with emotional and behavioral problems in preschool children. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 363–368.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  84. Wertsch, J. (2002). Voices of collective remembering. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wessells, M. (2006). Child soldiers: From violence to protection. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  86. Williams, R. (2007). The psychosocial consequences for children of mass violence, terrorism and disasters. International Review of Psychiatry, 19, 263–277.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  87. Zahr, L. K. (1996). Effects of war on the behavior of Lebanese preschool children: Influence of home environment and family functioning. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 66, 401–408.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

Personalised recommendations