CHILDREN IN CONFLICT: Growing Up in Northern Ireland by Morris Fraser
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CHILDREN IN CONFLICT: Growing Up in Northern Ireland

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Tremors, hallucinations, epileptic seizures, uncontrollable weeping--these are only a few of the symptoms psychiatrist Fraser has observed among the children of unholy Belfast. The media image of a ten-year-old mini-terrorist hurling a petrol bomb is real enough, but to Fraser it's only the most overt manifestation of aggression and despair. His clinical studies significantly extend our understanding of how children react to violence and dislocation; which age groups are most susceptible; and how the effects of trauma can best be minimized. The acute anxiety neuroses of adults and children trapped in actual combat Fraser finds less fearful than the chronic disturbances which persist, or actually worsen, once the immediate danger is past. Fraser discredits the notion that ""riot games""--a favorite children's pastime--can have cathartic value; on the contrary, they foster the ""habituation to violence"": violence directed initially at the ""dirty Fenian"" or the ""bloody Protestant"" soon becomes generalized--witness the multiplication of Belfast's marauding street gangs, the escalation of vandalism and destructive behavior against all authority sources. Fraser's comparative evaluations of children caught up in natural disasters (in the coal mining regions of Wales and in Buffalo Creek) and in the ghetto riots of Watts, makes this study especially telling. Moreover, the profile of traumatized children is embedded in a devastating social portrait of Belfast--a city of barbed wire and barricades where social life has ""contracted disastrously"" and everything from segregated schools, to graffiti, street chants, flags, and a virulently partisan press contributes to the murderous territoriality of a ""racial"" war. Published in Britain in 1973, the book is still abysmally up-to-date.

Pub Date: March 4th, 1977
Publisher: Basic Books