Collective Violence and Childhood | Encyclopedia of early childhood development (2023)

Joanne Klevens, MD, PhD
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA.



Collective violence is any type of violence committed by groups of individuals or by states.1It is termed social violence when used to advance a social agenda (e.g. police killings of street children, gang violence, hate group terrorism, structural racism), political violence when used for political reasons (e.g (e.g. armed conflict or terrorism by guerrilla or paramilitary forces) or economic violence to advance an economic agenda (e.g. drug cartel terrorism, social exclusion of the poor).1For the purposes of this chapter, all three types of collective violence will be discussed, since distinctions in the agenda of the perpetrators may be irrelevant when considering their impact on children's health. While acts of omission (e.g., states denying children access to education, health care, or other basic needs) can also have serious impacts on children's health and development, the impact of this type of collective violence is beyond the scope of this chapter.

Collective violence can affect young children directly as victims or witnesses and indirectly through its impact on the availability, stability and responsiveness of caregivers and those around them.2Young children may be particularly vulnerable to threatening situations because of their limited cognitive or physical abilities to regulate their psychological response, reduce threat, or withdraw from the situation.3The health effects when children are exposed to mob violence depend on the level of exposure, the amount of care support available during and after the experience, and the level of disruption to daily life and the surrounding community.2,4


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It is estimated that over the past decade more than 2 million children worldwide have died as a direct result of armed conflict, with at least three times that number left permanently disabled or seriously injured, 20 million left homeless and another million left orphaned or separated from their families . 🇧🇷5In addition to injuries, children exposed to armed conflict also have higher rates of mortality and morbidity from a variety of causes (e.g., infections, malnutrition).6The rates of mental disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety disorders, are particularly high in exposed children.7In addition, in 2009 more than 4 million children under the age of five were classified as refugees, internally displaced persons, asylum seekers or stateless as a result of conflict or threat of persecution.8Armed conflict can also destroy or disrupt infrastructure (e.g. schools, health care, businesses, food production and distribution) and social cohesion, leading to insecurity, unpredictability and disorder in the daily lives of families and disrupting the fabric of communities that supports healthy children. in development.9Although fewer children are affected, terrorism (including bombings, kidnapping, kidnapping, extortion)10by political, economic or social groups can have similar physical and psychological effects on children as the effects of war.2,4

Many children are also socially excluded. For example, more than 900 million people worldwide, including many children, live in slums.11Most are deprived of formal education, health care, transportation, electricity, sanitation, clean water, secure property, political participation, security and the rule of law, increasing their risk of communicable diseases, toxins, natural disasters and stigma.11Almost 900 million people belong to ethnic or religious groups that suffer discrimination.12Historical conditions, unfair social policies, and unfair economic arrangements have made Black and Hispanic children in the United States more likely to live in segregated and severely impoverished neighborhoods.13Systematic exclusion or discrimination against a population creates chronic stress, increased risk of exposure to adversity and toxins, and limited access to services, resources, and healthy options, leading to a variety of health problems throughout life.14-15


Research and intervention on collective violence is hampered by:

  1. The lack of clear and consistent definitions for some types of collective violence such as social exclusion;
  2. The lack of reliable statistics on the number and characteristics of affected children;
  3. Significant practical difficulties in collecting reliable data during or after armed conflicts;
  4. Aggregated data obscuring the conditions of poor, homeless or transient populations;
  5. Gaps in knowledge of root and proximate causes and in the effectiveness of interventions to prevent their occurrence or improve their impact.

search context

While research on the effects of mob violence is limited, it draws on the wealth of research on children's exposure to other forms of trauma and stress, such as B. Child abuse, domestic violence and poverty. This research from the social, behavioral and neurosciences, molecular biology, genomics and animal models is clearly converging on the negative effects of severe and chronic adversity on young children.sixteen

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main research questions

What are the underlying determinants and triggers of collective violence? Cross-sectional studies with large samples have identified correlates to the onset of armed conflict (e.g. poverty and inequality; political instability; weak democratic institutions; availability of lucrative opportunities such as illicit drugs or mineral, metal or oil extraction amid high levels of violence), unemployment, existence of marginalized or discriminated population groups, neighbors at risk of war)17-26and terrorist incidents (eg.27-29However, because they are based on a finite set of armed conflict or terrorism incidents, the consistency of these associations is difficult to test, and the relative importance of different correlates depends on the model specification. As far as possible, systematic reviews are required to identify consistent factors; More complex statistical analyzes are required to establish the robustness of factors identified in isolated studies or with conflicting impacts (e.g. democratization processes, social exclusion, ethnically or racially divided associations, natural disasters, resource scarcity and hoarding), moderators and contextual ones mediators. Furthermore, theoretical uncertainties surrounding the causes of collective violence suggest that new potential factors, particularly underlying causes (e.g. cultural values, economic systems), continue to need to be identified and studied. Studies that elucidate the causal chain of events or potential mechanisms would be helpful in identifying potential strategies and avenues for prevention. In the case of social exclusion or discrimination, there are descriptions of the potential causes of their occurrence in some communities and studies identifying their individual determinants, but research identifying the factors contributing to the perpetuation of structural racism or discrimination is needed to to develop interventions.

What types of interventions would effectively prevent or control collective violence? Some of the correlates of both armed conflict and terrorism may be modifiable (e.g. poverty, inequality, exclusion). Research into possible effective strategies (e.g. high-quality early childhood education; full employment with adequately paid jobs; universal protection against loss of income due to unemployment, illness, disability, old age, pregnancy, care for disabled children or relatives; comprehensive coverage of health, education, sanitation and water; redistributive economic and social policies; access to credit) to reduce poverty and inequality is increasing30-31However, other strategies could be identified and evaluated. Strategies to reduce social exclusion or discrimination (eg, affirmative action, school and neighborhood desegregation) have been tried in the United States with mixed results.32-34Other strategies with the potential to eliminate or reduce social exclusion (e.g. reducing policies or measures targeted or restricted to specific groups, universal provision of social protection and essential services of equal quality, intersectoral coordination of policies and measures, promotion and protection of human rights). , promoting and supporting genuine community empowerment, participatory governance35-36) must be evaluated. Similarly, there are studies examining the factors that lead to early intervention in armed conflict situations (eg37-38), studies are also needed to assess the effectiveness and possible adverse effects of different interventions (e.g. sanctions, diplomacy, peacekeeping missions, military).

Which interventions are effective in reducing the impact of collective violence on children? Although governments and NGOs tend to respond to mob violence by providing basic needs and medical assistance,9Not all forms of collective violence (e.g. discrimination) are responded to, and when they are, they are sometimes too slow, inadequate or unfair. Because the caregiver function mediates and mitigates the effects of collective violence on children,2Community and societal level interventions that facilitate or support the functioning of nurses should be implemented and evaluated. Although limited research suggests that systematic preventive interventions are effective in reducing PTSD and depressive symptoms in older children traumatized by armed conflict or terrorism, only four have been rigorously evaluated and none have been developed for young children.40

Current search results

Conditions such as forced displacement, social exclusion or segregation, particularly when they lead to poverty or are aggravated by poverty, can cause severe and uncontrollable chronic stress for young children who, unless protected by safe, stable and responsive caregivers, can become 'toxic'. can become. . emphasize."41Toxic stress experienced during sensitive periods of early growth affects brain structure and function, recalibrates the threshold for activation of the stress response system, and alters the immune and endocrine systems and inflammatory responses. These stress-related changes impact attention, decision-making, impulse control, emotion regulation, and physiological processes that contribute to increased vulnerabilities to future emotional instability, anxiety and depression disorders, learning, aggression, and abuse. obesity, asthma, respiratory infections, and heart, lung, and liver disease.3,16

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research gaps

Developing and evaluating interventions to prevent collective violence, such as armed conflict and terrorism, must be a priority. However, since preventive interventions rely on the identification and understanding of causal factors and mechanisms, research using a combination of historical, qualitative, and quantitative methods is needed to fill these gaps. Interventions that address root causes are more likely to have wide-ranging and long-term impacts, but identifying the factors that motivate governments to implement these potential interventions would be necessary. In the meantime, researchers might also consider evaluating interventions to mitigate the effects of mob violence on children. There is a need to identify the factors that contribute to the persistence and reproduction of the social exclusion of populations and interventions are needed to change them.


Collective violence includes any physical, sexual or psychological violence committed by larger groups of individuals or by states. Many children around the world are exposed to various forms of collective violence, such as armed conflict, terrorism and exclusion, discrimination or racism. Direct or indirect exposure (through its effects on caregivers) of young children to mob violence has serious lifelong consequences for children's cognitive, emotional and social development, as well as their physical and mental health. In addition to fatal and non-fatal injuries, mob violence can result in increased risk of infectious and chronic diseases and increased mortality through various mechanisms such as toxic stress, limited access to resources and services, or increased exposure to risk. Because caregiver function can cushion the effects of these exposures on children, interventions should be designed to facilitate and promote safe, stable, and responsive care. Research efforts should focus on the development and evaluation of interventions for the primary prevention of collective violence. These preventive interventions must be based on a better understanding of the underlying and initiating causes and their sequence in the causal chain of events.

Impact on Parents, Services and Policies

Parents can help mitigate the consequences when children are exposed to mob violence by providing safe, stable, and responsive care. Parents may also consider advocating for conditions that facilitate proper parenting and prevent mob violence from occurring. Services must provide the support parents need to continue providing safe, stable and responsive care for their children (e.g. adequate and stable housing, a safe environment, sufficient food, clean water, sanitation, medical care, including important PTSD work). . Policymakers should examine current and future policies to determine their potential impact on perceived causes of armed conflict and terrorism, and their impact on perpetuating discrimination or exclusion against subgroups of the population. Governments must protect all members of society and ensure equal access to the necessary conditions for health.

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To cite this article:

Klevens J. Collective Violence and Children. In: Tremblay RE, Boivin M, Peters RDeV, eds. Tremblay RE, topic ed.Encyclopedia of early childhood development[in line].🇧🇷 Published October 2011. Accessed December 2, 2022.

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What factors contribute to collective violence? ›

Collective violence can be caused by feelings of relative deprivation and dissatisfaction with basic human needs. A prolonged period of economic and social development generates heightened expectations. There is a certain level of expectations to which people believe they are rightfully entitled.

What are some examples of collective violence? ›

Riots and random youth gang fights are examples of spontaneous collective violence. At the other extreme are the organized forms of collective violence. These include coups, rebellions, revolutions, terrorism, and war.

What is the definition of social violence? ›

Social violence refers to any type of violence committed by individuals or the community that has a social impact.

What are the causes of collective behavior? ›

Collective behavior results when several conditions exist, including structural strain, generalized beliefs, precipitating factors, and lack of social control.

What is the meaning of collective violence? ›

"Collective violence" is defined as "the instrumental use of violence by people who identify themselves as members of a group--whether this group is transitory or has a more permanent identity--against another group or set of individuals, in order to achieve political, economic, or social objectives."

What are the 4 main types of collective behavior? ›

Sociologist Herbert Blumer (1969) developed a popular typology of crowds based on their purpose and dynamics. The four types he distinguished are casual crowds, conventional crowds, expressive crowds, and acting crowds.

What are the three types of collective behavior? ›

There are three primary forms of collective behavior: the crowd, the mass, and the public. It takes a fairly large number of people in close proximity to form a crowd (Lofland 1993).

What are the 4 main types of violence? ›

By looking more closely at the nature of acts of violence, these three categories can be further divided into four, more specific, types of violence:
  • Physical violence.
  • Sexual violence.
  • Psychological violence.
  • Neglect.

What are the 4 most common causes of violence? ›

Other factors which can be causes of violence include:

Having low self-worth. Experiencing abuse or neglect. Witnessing violence in the home, community, or medias. Access to weapons.

What are 5 main types of violence? ›

Using these as a basis, we shall distinguish five inter-related types of violence:
  • physical violence.
  • verbal violence (including hate speech)
  • psychological violence.
  • sexual violence.
  • socio-economic violence.

What are the three 3 forms of violence in a community? ›

Physical violence occurs when someone uses a part of their body or an object to control a person's actions. Sexual violence occurs when a person is forced to unwillingly take part in sexual activity. Emotional violence occurs when someone says or does something to make a person feel stupid or worthless.

What are the 8 types of collective behavior? ›

Common forms of collective behavior discussed in this section include crowds, mobs, panics, riots, disaster behavior, rumors, mass hysteria, moral panics, and fads and crazes.

What are examples of collective behavior? ›

Examples of collective behavior may include a crowd doing the wave at a football game, a group of people forming around a street preacher, or even widespread interest in a new fad or product, like silly bands. I will explain collective behavior in sociology through three main forms: the crowd, the mob, and the riot.

What are the effects of collective behavior? ›

The most notable immediate effect of all kinds of collective behaviour is to alter the salience of various problems, issues, and groups in public awareness.

What are the causes and effects of violence? ›

Those who experience or witness violence may develop a variety of problems, including anxiety, depression, insecurity, anger, poor anger management, poor social skills, pathological lying, manipulative behaviour, impulsiveness, and lack of empathy.

What is the full meaning of collective? ›

: of, relating to, or being a group of individuals. : involving all members of a group as distinct from its individuals.

What is collective action and why is it important? ›

Collective action refers to action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their condition and achieve a common objective. It is a term that has formulations and theories in many areas of the social sciences including psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science and economics.

What is the difference between collective behavior and group behavior? ›

Collective behavior involves limited and short-lived social interactions, while groups tend to remain together longer. Collective behavior has no clear social boundaries; anyone can be a member of the collective, while group membership is usually more discriminating.

What are the three collective action problems? ›

Environmental problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and waste accumulation can be described as collective action problems.

What is collective Behaviour theory? ›

The term "collective behavior" was first used by Robert E. Park, and employed definitively by Herbert Blumer, to refer to social processes and events which do not reflect existing social structure (laws, conventions, and institutions), but which emerge in a "spontaneous" way.

What are the characteristics of collective behavior? ›

collective behaviour, the kinds of activities engaged in by sizable but loosely organized groups of people. Episodes of collective behaviour tend to be quite spontaneous, resulting from an experience shared by the members of the group that engenders a sense of common interest and identity.

What are characteristics of the collective action problem? ›

A collective action problem is normally described as a situation in which the short-term self-interest of individual actors is in conflict with longer-term collective interests, generating a substantial risk that the collective benefit is not produced at all (Olson 1965).

What is one factor that influences crowd behavior? ›

It is found that several social influence processes affect the attitudes and actions of crowd members - social facilitation, modeling and imitation, conformity to group norms, group discussion and persuasive appeals.

What are the 5 risk factors for violence? ›

Individual Risk Factors
  • History of violent victimization.
  • Attention deficits, hyperactivity, or learning disorders.
  • History of early aggressive behavior.
  • Involvement with drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.
  • Low IQ.
  • Poor behavioral control.
  • Deficits in social cognitive or information-processing abilities.
  • High emotional distress.

What are 5 ways to prevent violence? ›

Tips for Youth to Stop Violence
  1. Tell someone. If you are the victim or are witness to violence, tell someone. ...
  2. Take all violence and abuse seriously. ...
  3. Take a stand. ...
  4. Be an individual. ...
  5. Take back the power. ...
  6. Remember, putting others down doesn't raise you up. ...
  7. Wrong. ...
  8. Be a friend.

What are the 10 causes of violence? ›

10 Most Common Causes of Domestic Violence in Relationship
  • Mental problems.
  • Poverty and unemployment.
  • Education.
  • Young parents.
  • Relationship Retention Behavior.
  • Historical Factors.
  • Cultural Factors.
  • Self Defence.
13 Sept 2022

What are six factors that contribute to violent behavior? ›

Specific risk factors include the abuse of alcohol, actual and perceived inequality of treatment, exposure to violence in the media, gang association, accessibility of weapons, and child abuse of various types.

What are 3 ways to prevent violence? ›

Preventing Youth Violence
  1. Modify the physical and social environment.
  2. Reduce exposure to community-level risks.
  3. Street outreach and community norm change.

What causes child violence? ›

Trauma, family dysfunction and certain parenting styles (such as harsh and inconsistent punishment) also make it more likely that a child will exhibit anger and/or aggression that interferes with his or her daily life.

What are the three concepts of violence? ›

The WRVH divides violence into three categories according to who has committed the violence: self‐directed, interpersonal or collective; and into four further categories according to the nature of violence: physical, sexual, psychological or involving deprivation or neglect (fig 1​).

What is the most common violence? ›

Domestic violence

It encompasses all physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This is one of the most common forms of violence experienced by women globally.

What are the three components of violence? ›

How do we understand violence? Johan Galtung explained violence in terms of its three dimensions; direct violence, structural violence, and cultural violence. He suggested that these dimensions of violence can be depicted as the three arms of a triangle.

What are the different forms of violence against children? ›

Examples include: abuse and neglect in the family, incest, sexual abuse, infanticide; bullying and other forms of violence in the school; corporal punishment; psychological aggression; child trafficking, sale of children, child sexual exploitation and other commercial sexual exploitation of children; child labour; ...

What are the 3 stages of the violence cycle? ›

There are three stages to the cycle of violence:
  • First is the tension building phase. In this phase, the batterer gets edgy and tension begins to build up. ...
  • Second is the actual explosion phase where the physical abuse occurs. It can last from a few minutes to several hours.
  • Third is the honeymoon phase.

What are the effects of violence? ›

Consequences include increased incidences of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide; increased risk of cardiovascular disease; and premature mortality. The health consequences of violence vary with the age and sex of the victim as well as the form of violence.

What are 4 factors that contribute to violence? ›

A combination of individual, relationship, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of youth violence.

What are four contributing factors to violence? ›

Contributing Factors
  • A perpetrator's sense of power, control, and entitlement: Use of violent behavior and power to control the victim. ...
  • Gender-based stereotypes reinforce the inequality between genders: ...
  • Contributing factors such as alcohol and other drugs: ...
  • Victim-blaming ideas:

What are the four factors of communal violence? ›

All this demonstrates how a combination of political, economic, social, religious and administrative factors aggravates the situation which leads to communal riots.

What are 4 common causes of violence? ›

Other factors which can be causes of violence include:
  • The influence of one's peers.
  • Having a lack of attention or respect.
  • Having low self-worth.
  • Experiencing abuse or neglect.
  • Witnessing violence in the home, community, or medias.
  • Access to weapons.
5 days ago

What are 5 effects of violence? ›

Consequences include increased incidences of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide; increased risk of cardiovascular disease; and premature mortality. The health consequences of violence vary with the age and sex of the victim as well as the form of violence.

What are the 3 major factors that lead to youth violence? ›

Risk factors within close relationships (family, friends, intimate partners, and peers)
  • poor monitoring and supervision of children by parents.
  • harsh, lax or inconsistent parental disciplinary practices.
  • a low level of attachment between parents and children.
  • low parental involvement in children's activities.
8 Jun 2020

What are five main types of violence? ›

Using these as a basis, we shall distinguish five inter-related types of violence:
  • physical violence.
  • verbal violence (including hate speech)
  • psychological violence.
  • sexual violence.
  • socio-economic violence.

What are 3 factors that contribute to violent behavior? ›

Factors associated with aggressive behavior include:
  • History of physical fighting or vandalism.
  • History of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Discovery of detailed plans to commit violence.
  • Making direct, veiled or conditional threats of violence.
  • History of controlling others.
  • Excessive need for attention or respect.

What age group is the most violent? ›

Perpetrator-Victim Relationship.

Juvenile victims were most likely to be assaulted by person age 18 to 24. While most violent crime occurs between people of the same race, men were more likely to be arrested for a violent crime against a woman.

What is communal violence in simple words? ›

Communal violence is a form of violence that is perpetrated across ethnic or communal lines, the violent parties feel solidarity for their respective groups, and victims are chosen based upon group membership.

What are the causes of social and communal conflict? ›

The Causes, Consequences and Steps to Handle Communal Violence
  • Introduction.
  • Causes for Up Scaled Communal Divide.
  • Vote Bank Politics. ...
  • Turf War for Dominance by Religious Heads. ...
  • Struggle for Identity or Class Conflict. ...
  • Conflict of Interests. ...
  • Reports of Threat to Religious Ideologies. ...
  • Irresponsible Reporting by Media.
25 Oct 2015

How do you resolve a communal conflict? ›

(i) Mediation: This is a process where a third party intervenes between two or more communities having issues with the aim of resolving their differences on the issues in order to prevent violence. (ii) Compensation: This is made to aggrieved people by individuals, groups or government. It is usually in cash or kind.

What are the 3 classification of violence? ›

Physical violence occurs when someone uses a part of their body or an object to control a person's actions. Sexual violence occurs when a person is forced to unwillingly take part in sexual activity. Emotional violence occurs when someone says or does something to make a person feel stupid or worthless.


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