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Child Abuse Negl. 2013 Nov;37(11):955-68. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.04.006. Epub 2013 Jun 14.

Intergenerational effects of war trauma among Palestinian families mediated via psychological maltreatment.

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University of Tampere, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, 33014 University of Tampere, Finland.


We tested the hypothesis that intergenerational effects of parents' war trauma on offspring's attachment and mental health are mediated by psychological maltreatment. Two hundred and forty children and their parents were sampled from a war-prone area, Gaza, Palestine. The parents reported the number and type of traumatic experiences of war they had had during their lifetime before the child's birth and during a current war when the child was 10-12 years old. The children reported their war traumas, experiences of psychological maltreatment, attachment security, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTSS), depression, and aggression. The direct and indirect intergenerational effects of war trauma were tested in structural equation models. The hypotheses were confirmed for father's past war exposure, and disconfirmed for mother's war exposure. The father's past war trauma had a negative association with attachment security and positive association with the child's mental health problems mediated by increased psychological maltreatment. In contrast, the mother's past war trauma had a negative association with the child's depression via decreased psychological maltreatment. The mother's current war trauma had a negative association with the child's depression and aggression via decreased psychological maltreatment. Among fathers, past war exposure should be considered as a risk factor for psychological maltreatment of children and the associated attachment insecurity and mental health problems. Among mothers, war exposure as such could be given less clinical attention than PTSS in the prevention of psychological maltreatment of children.


Aggression; Attachment; Depression; Intergenerational; Posttraumatic stress symptoms; Psychological maltreatment

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