In this study the question that was being tested was, does terrorism affect the way that school-age children identify the facial expressions that are being displayed by those around them. The variable in this experiment was whether or not the participant had been through a specific terrorist attack. The working hypothesis was that children who went through a traumatic experience, such as a terrorist attack, would be unable to identify various expressions of facial emotion.
The introduction to this experiment was very intriguing. “On September 1, 2004, armed multinational terrorists (Chechens, Ingush) took hostage about 1,200 children and adults in School Number 1 in the Russian town of Beslan (Republic of North Ossetia-Alania). The terrorists kept the school under siege for 3 days, during which all hostages were denied water, food, and medication. Hundreds of them were jammed into the school gym, where the heat was unbearable. In these conditions, many children died of dehydration; others drank their urine to survive” (Scrimin, Moscardino, Capello, Altoe, & Axia, 2009). To some this may be the worst thing to read, but when I read this I try to understand what the terrorists and the hostages were thinking. I am not saying, however, that I condone this type of action. The introduction goes on to describe some of the other things that went on in those three days and gives a few brief quotes from those who lived through it.
Prior research for the effects of terrorism on the ability of children to correctly detect the emotions being expressed facially has indicated that children who have been through a terrorist attack are at a greater chance of developing anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Scrimin, et al., 2009). It states that children can be affected by a terrorist attack and not actually be there personally. “Moreover, school-aged children can develop negative reactions (D. Phillips, Prince, & Schiebelhut, 2004) and high rates of PTSD (Pfefferbaum et al., 1999) even after a short event and despite not being directly exposed to it…” (Scrimin, et al., 2009). There have not, though, been any studies done on the ability of a child to recognize the facial expressions after a terrorism-induced trauma.
The subjects were 101 children who were there the day the school was under siege and 102 children who were not there due to absence or tardiness. The groups were from the same area, had similar backgrounds, and there was no discernible difference between the two groups.
The procedures used were very complex and quite simple at the same time. Children were recruited for this particular study 20 months after the school hostage situation. The trials took one month to complete. There were trained and certified psychologists and professional translators on staff at all times. Everyone at the school who needed to be was notified and gave consent. The parents also gave consent for their children to take part in the study....