Psychological Effects of Terrorism on Acute Stress Symptoms in Children

Author :Shuamaila Kanwal

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Rukhsana Kausar

Degree: M.Sc


University: Institute of Applied Psychology, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan


The present study was conducted to examine psychological implications of terrorism for Children. In particular post traumatic acute stress symptoms were examined following terrorist attack on the Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore on 11th March 2008. It was hypothesized that children in the vicinity of terrorist attack would manifest Acute Stress Disorder symptoms. A sample of 50 children was recruited from the Sacred Heart School which is adjacent to the Federal Investigation Agency building and the said children were attending school at the time of attack. Acute Stress Disorder Symptoms Checklist for Kids was used for assessment and individual assessment was carried out by the researcher at the premises of school after seeking formal permission from school authorities. Data was analyzed using t-test and correlation analysis. Analysis revealed that majority of the children showed stress symptoms above the cut off score on six subscales of Acute Stress Disorder symptom Checklist. There were no gender differences in Acute Stress Disorder except for the subscale of “subjective experience of fear/helplessness/horror” and girls reported significantly more subjective experience compared to boys. Age had significant negative correlation with stress symptoms which employs that younger children experienced more acute stress symptoms compared to their older counterparts. Findings have very important implications for provision of psychological interventions for the children who are exposed to traumatic events such as terrorism.

Keywords: Terrorism, Acute stress, Helplessness.

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Corresponding Address: Department of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. Email:, Phone: 92-42-9231245

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