Does war beget child aggression? Military violence, gender, age and aggressive behavior in two Palestinian samples

Aggress Behav. May-Jun 2008;34(3):231-44. doi: 10.1002/ab.20236.


We examined, first, the relations between children's exposure to military violence and their aggressive behavior and the role of age and gender in that relation in two Palestinian samples. Second, we tested parenting practices as a moderator of the relation between exposure to military violence and aggressive behavior, and third, whether exposure to military violence of different nature (direct victimization versus witnessing) has specific associations with different forms of aggression (reactive, proactive and aggression-enjoyment). Study I was conducted in a relatively calm military-political atmosphere in Palestine-Gaza, and included 640 children, aged 6-16 years whose parents (N=622) and teachers (N=457) provided reports. Older children (> or =12 years) provided self-reports (N=211). Study II included 225 Palestinian children aged 10-14-year, who participated during a high-violence period of the Al Aqsa Intifada characterized by air raids, killing and destruction. Results showed that witnessing severe military violence was associated with children's aggressive and antisocial behavior (parent-reported) in study I, and with proactive, reactive and aggression-enjoyment (child-reported) in the study II. As hypothesized, good and supporting parenting practices could moderate the link between exposure to military violence and aggressive behavior. Aggr.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Aggression* / psychology
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Child Behavior* / psychology
  • Child Reactive Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child Reactive Disorders / psychology
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle East / epidemiology
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Warfare*