Social support buffers the effects of terrorism on adolescent depression: Findings from Sderot, Israel Academic Article uri icon


  • This prospective study of 29 Israeli middle school students experiencing terror attacks by Qassam rockets addressed whether higher levels of baseline social support protected adolescents from adverse psychological effects of exposure to rocket attacks. Participants were assessed at two time points 5 months apart, before and after a period of military escalation from May to September 2007. Adolescent self-reported depression was measured at both time points, using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Child Depression Scale. Social support from family, friends, and school was measured at time 1, via a short form of the Perceived Social Support Scale. Adolescents also reported their exposure to rocket attacks at both time points. There was a significant interaction between social support and exposure to rocket attacks predicting depression over time. As hypothesized, baseline levels of social support buffered against the effect of exposure to rocket attacks on increased depression. Conversely, social support was associated with increased depression for adolescents who were not exposed to rocket attacks. Findings highlight the potential importance of community mental health efforts to bolster schools, families, and peer groups as protective resources in times of traumatic stress.

publication date

  • September 1, 2008