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Fear of water after disaster/war

Different disaster situations expose children to fearful situations involving water. In hurricanes and floods (gradual increase of water, flash floods and Tsunamis) and maritime disasters (ship collisions, ships sinking) danger can occur associated with water. With the exodus of refugees from Syria and Myanmar where boats have been used in crossing the sea, a great number of children have experienced very dangerous and stressful situations. The Children and War Foundation are unaware of studies having a specific focus on the development of fear in children following dangerous sea-crossing experiences. Already in 1932 Hagman found fear of deep water one of the most common fears of preschool age. Yule, Udwin and Murdoch (1990) have shown significantly more fear of stimulus properties related to the accident after a cruise ship sank in 1988.  However, a search on PsychINFO and a quick search of the literature in Google and Google Scholar provide no resources that could ascertain whether fear of water was prominent in children that has fled over the sea. However, at least one report detail procedures on how to reduce this fear in general (i.e. Chan, Crossland, & Fogel, 2016).

Given the number of children exposed to having to flee in vulnerable boats, the Foundation would like to stimulate more research in this area. We think that specific stimuli related to their experience may act as traumatic reminders and would therefore like this subject to get more research attention. Projects that can help solicit increased knowledge in this area are welcomed and may receive up to NOK 80 000 in economic support.

Please send a project description to contact@childrenandwar.org

References
Chan, P. E., Crosland, K. A., & Fogel, V. A. (2016). Reducing phobic behavior near water and increasing water approach skills. Behavioral Interventions, 31(2), 163–179. https://doi.org/10.1002/bin.1443
Hagman, E. R. (1932). A Study of Fears of Children of Pre-School Age. The Journal of Experimental Education, 1(2), 110–130.

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