In this study the question that was being tested was, does terrorism affect the way that school-age children identify the facial expressions that are being displayed by those around them. The variable in this experiment was whether or not the participant had been through a specific terrorist attack. The working hypothesis was that children who went through a traumatic experience, such as a terrorist attack, would be unable to identify various expressions of facial emotion.
The introduction to this experiment was very intriguing. “On September 1, 2004, armed multinational terrorists (Chechens, Ingush) took hostage about 1,200 children and adults in School Number 1 in the Russian town of Beslan (Republic of North Ossetia-Alania). The terrorists kept the school under siege for 3 days, during which all hostages were denied water, food, and medication. Hundreds of them were jammed into the school gym, where the heat was unbearable. In these conditions, many children died of dehydration; others drank their urine to survive” (Scrimin, Moscardino, Capello, Altoe, & Axia, 2009). To some this may be the worst thing to read, but when I read this I try to understand what the terrorists and the hostages were thinking. I am not saying, however, that I condone this type of action. The introduction goes on to describe some of the other things that went on in those three days and gives a few brief quotes from those who lived through it.
Prior research for the effects of terrorism on the ability of children to correctly detect the emotions being expressed facially has indicated that children who have been through a terrorist attack are at a greater chance of developing anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Scrimin...
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... in another area of the country and performed the trials on them too.
As I think about this study, a few questions come to mind. One, what, if anything, can be done to help these children who have suffered from PTSD and/or a terrorist attack? Two, is there a way that we as Christians can help end terrorism and abusive homes so that children can grow in a loving environment? I believe that the implications of this study should push us toward these two questions and a search for the answers. But this study also implies that violence and/or trauma will have a lasting effect on a child’s life and the way that they perceive those around them.
Scrimin, S., Moscardino, U., Capello, F., Altoe, G., & Axia, G. (2009). Recognition of facial expressions of mixed emotions in school-age children exposed to terrorism. Developmental Psychology, 45(5), 1341-1352.
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