Experience of Palestinian Children Facing Consistent Intermittent Traumatic Events: A Descriptive Phenomenological Exploration
Sociology and Anthropology
The objective of this research is to provide a qualitative analysis of the effects of living in a zone of militarized activity under hostile occupation on minor aged children. Ongoing political conflict affects the individual, cultural, societal and economic lives of children creating significant challenges for positive development in the area of mental health in particular. There is a grave lack of knowledge related to the way children understand the geo-political realities in which they
... in which they reside. This study works to provide a descriptive analysis from the individual perspective, of the experience of Palestinian children in an area of high frequency violent conflict under a situation of hostile resisted occupation with the goal of deepening the awareness to the process of adaptation to traumatic stress and of understanding the immediate and long term effects of traumatic exposure while highlighting areas for support and positive intervention. Methodology: The investigation incorporated a qualitative phenomenological descriptive design utilizing guided interviews. 15 children were selected in a purposeful representational sample. Children were identified due to their personal participation in civil protests, and/or having direct experiences as victims of occupying military action (including having tear gas canisters thrown at them, being shot with rubber bullets and live ammunition, being arrested, being assaulted by soldiers, being interrogated, having their homes entered and inspected without permission, having their parents beaten and arrested in their presence, etc.). Data was analyzed by using Giorgi's phenomenological psychology method (1985). Results: Three major themes and ten sub-themes were identified: (1) Exposure to Traumatic Events (threats to well-being, witnessing violence, direct violence, deprivation of freedom, lack of safety and fear); (2) Normalization (trauma play, underestimation of risk); (3) Resilience (the active creation or search for positive support in the current environment, self-efficacy, awareness of self, feelings of belonging, and belief in trusted adults). Conclusion: The findings demonstrate the importance of understanding the experience of continual intermittent traumatic events on the psychological, behavioral, and cognitive development of children living in militarized conflict zones and the important role that efficacy, community support and trust play in supporting resilience in such circumstances.