Growing Up Under Fire: Building Resilience in Young Children and Parents Exposed to Ongoing Missile Attacks

Ruth Pat-Horenczyk*, Michal Achituv, Arielle Kagan Rubenstein, Atoosa Khodabakhsh, Danny Brom, Claude Chemtob

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This article presents data from a project in Sderot, Israel designed to build resilience for 255 young children and their families. During the time of the project, the area was under continual exposure to missile attacks and resulting traumatic events. The phenomenology of living under continual exposure to missiles attacks, as well as the impact of the ongoing fear and uncertainty on both the children and their parents, are presented through voices of the parents. The clinical picture for young children and their parents coping with ongoing terrorism indicated a high level of posttraumatic distress for children (33%) and for mothers (28%). An integrative model was developed and implemented with three major components: clinical screening and treatment with an adjusted dyadic therapy for peritraumatic and posttraumatic circumstances; building resilience intervention by workshops for both parents and teachers; and building local capacity and sustainability by training local therapists, parents, and teachers.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)303-314
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Trauma
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by grants from the UJA Federation of New York, the Picower Foundation, NY, and the Israel Trauma Coalition. We would like to express our appreciation to Shelley Horwitz, from the UJA Federation of New York, to Ornit Rozenblatt and Zvi Faiermann from the Psychological Services Sha’ar Hanegev, and to Dalia Yossef from the Resilience Center in Sderot for their clinical guidance and contribution to the project. Special thanks also go to Dr. Nira Kaplansky and Professor Mooli Lahad, from the Community Stress Prevention Center in Kiryat Shmona and Tel Hai Academic College, for their community approach and creativity. We are grateful to the many field workers in Sderot for their very dedicated work, and extend special appreciation to all the families who agreed to participate in the project and share their fears and strengths with us. We are indebted to Dr. Renee Rabinowitz, Prof. Sarale Cohen, and Prof. Arlene Tucker-Levin for the continual careful editing of our work and we warmly thank them.


  • PTSD
  • building resilience
  • dyadic treatment
  • parents
  • terrorism
  • trauma
  • young children


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