The Effects of Exposure to Violence on Aggressive Behavior: The Case of Arab and Jewish Children in Israel
39 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2015 Last revised: 12 Jun 2016
Date Written: December 26, 2015
The impact of exposure to violence in the context of families, neighborhoods, and peer groups on pre-adolescents and adolescents has been widely studied. However, very little is known on the effect of exposure to political conflict and violence on children and youth. The literature is specially lacking studies assessing these last effects while controlling for exposure to violence in other contexts. This study evaluates the cumulative impact on Israeli children’s aggression of exposure to violence in four social ecological settings: family, school, neighborhood and political conflicts. The effects of exposure to violence in these settings were analyzed separately for the two major ethnic communities in Israel: Jewish and Arab. We examine data collected using face-to-face interviews with children and parents, from the two samples, each of 450 dyads with three age cohorts of children – 8 year olds, 11 year olds, and 14 year olds in 2007. We test the effect of exposure to each type of violence on aggressive behavior while controlling for a variety of personal and demographic covariates. Though both Israeli Arab and Jewish children report considerable exposure to various types of political violence, Jewish children were significantly more exposed to political violence (all types). On the other hand, Arab children were exposed to more community and family conflict and violence. In both ethnic groups, exposure to political violence and to violence in the other ecological contexts had a greater effect on children's aggression than did their demographic characteristics. Gender was the only significant demographic variable in both groups, and parents' income affected (negatively) only Jewish children's aggression. The study highlights the detrimental impact of exposure to political conflict and violence on both Arab and Jewish Israeli children's aggression.
Keywords: violence, political, children, Israel, family, school, Jewish, Arab, gender
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