By Verity Hubbard
Explosive violence challenges, and sometimes shatters, the three fundamental assumptions that provide children with a sense of well-being: that the world is benevolent, it is meaningful, and that the self is worthy.
Grief, anger, self-blame, disbelief, depression, and anxiety have all been well-documented in children who have experienced explosive violence. These effects are likely to persist into adulthood — long after the violence has stopped. How a child responds to the explosive violence that might enter their young lives is dependent on the nature of the blast, the circumstances of the conflict, the quality of social care and health provision, the direct and indirect impacts of the blast on the child or their caregivers, on family stability and income, their age, and the state of their mental and physical health before the blast, to name just some.
Exactly how such violence predictably impacts a child in all its myriad of ways, though, is not always clear. Consensus on the consequences of conflict and explosive violence on children’s psychological health is far from settled. The mental health disorders, PTSD and other psychological disorders that children are diagnosed with following conflict are wide and varied, and the tendency to view the experiences of children in conflict through the lens of western psychoanalysis has also been critiqued.