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Research on the Victims of Terrorism (From Victims of Terrorism, P 137-148, 1982, Frank M Ochberg and David A Soskis, eds. - See NCJ-85900)

NCJ Number
R M Fields
Date Published
12 pages
A discussion of the problems of conducting research on the victims of terrorism is accompanied by a description of some results of research on children in Northern Ireland over a 7-year period.
The study of terrorism is related to that of stress. A major barrier to research on the effects of trauma-induced stress is the lack of opportunity for detailed, empirical studies of the victims of either natural or man-made disasters. The cost of such research and such methodological problems as the need to do the research soon after the event and the lack of baseline data are further problems. Recent history suggests that terrorism appears in waves about once every two decades. However, not all children who grow up in turmoil and violence become terrorists, as shown by the postwar young adults in continental Europe. Nevertheless, much evidence indicates that the youthful Irish and Palestinians are more likely to be involved in terrorist actions than were their parents. Research on the moral and social development of children ages 6 to 15 growing up in Northern Ireland indicates that moral judgment in these children stops at a primitive level. As a result, it is not surprising that the bombers and gunmen of Belfast are often adolescent boys and girls of working-class families. These children often experienced the burning of their homes by uniformed forces and the interrogation of their mothers and fathers during their earliest years. Thus, the research shows that people who are badly treated or unjustly punished will seek revenge and that some of those who received appropriate punishment will also seek revenge. Further research should try to gather information to aid in intervention in the cycle in which innocent victims become victimizers. Twenty-three reference notes are included.