- Are children's views of the "enemy" shaped by a highly-publicized negative event?
- International Journal of Behavioral Development
- Volume | Issue number
- 34 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
In the beginning of the first decade of this century, some highly-publicized extremistic acts of terror occurred. A hostage tragedy in a school in Beslan (North Ossetia) was followed in the Netherlands by the brutal murder of the controversial Dutch filmmaker and newspaper columnist Theo van Gogh, bomb attacks in Bali and Madrid and other acts of terrorism between 2002 and 2005. The aim of the present study was to examine whether these events have resulted in the emergence of a collective enemy in the Netherlands, and whether this is reflected by the enemy images and understanding of enemy with Dutch children and adolescents aged 7—13. For this purpose, information about children and adolescents’ enemy images and understanding of enemy prior to (i.e., 2000 and 2002) and following these events was compared. In the pre- and post-studies, the participants were presented with a free-association and drawing task, as well as a short questionnaire. The findings revealed considerable shifts in the way children thought about and drew enemies. Whereas prior to these events an enemy with Dutch children and adolescents was an abstract, undefined entity, it now obtained more definition and a concrete reality, albeit without any specification of the identity of the enemy nor as being part of a collective enemy.
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