The Contribution of Maternal Care and Control, and Community Type to Children’s Adjustment to Political Violence

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Abstract

Objectives: This study explored the behavioral and emotional adjustment of Israeli school-age children who are exposed to political violence. Based on Bronfenbrenner’s (1986) ecological model and ecological model of psychosocial trauma (Harvey, 2007), we examined the direct contribution of exposure, gender, maternal characteristics (mother’s posttraumatic stress symptoms [PTSS], maternal care and maternal control), and community type (development town vs. kibbutz), to school-age children’s adjustment. In addition, we examined whether maternal characteristics and community type moderated the association between exposure and adjustment. Method: There were 121 mother-child dyads from the development town of Sderot (n = 62) and from the surrounding kibbutzim (n = 58) participated. Results: Revealed that being a boy, living in Sderot, and mothers’ higher PTSS, contributed directly to children’s total difficulties (i.e., externalizing and internalizing problems), and that maternal control moderated the association between personal exposure and children’s total difficulties. Furthermore, being a girl and mother’s higher PTSS and higher maternal control contributed directly to children’s PTSS. Mother’s PTSS moderated the association between personal exposure and children’s PTSS. Maternal care was not associated with children’s adjustment. Conclusions: Both the child’s gender and the type of community in which he or she lives are associated with maternal distress and children’s adjustment to political violence.

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