Section 1: Word Completion Task (Measure of Aggression) Treated Results

Zaid Tabaza

Method of Interpretation of Graphs 1 and 2 Below:

The x-axis indicates the percentage score for aggression, which could range from -100% to 100%, where -100% is indicative of the participant being extremely violent, 0% being a benchmark for neutral behavior, and 100% corresponding to extreme peacefulness. The y-axis represents the frequency of the percentage score, or in other words the number of participants who scored accordingly. The specific scores that occurred in my sample are marked by dots and lines linking between dots do not represent scores that were found in the study.

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Breakdown of Questionnaire

Zaid Tabaza

Breakdown of Questionnaire
The questionnaire consisted of three sections, each to measure a specific area in children psychology:

  1. Word-completion Task: the first section of the questionnaire was a simple task asking the participants to complete a set of incomplete word fragments (10 fragments) using the first letters that occurs to them to make meaningful, valid words. This test was designed to measure the participants’ tendency towards violence. All chosen fragments had the potential of being completed into a aggressive (negative) term, a positive term or sometimes a neutral term. This part was adapted from an accredited method used to measure different tendencies, including the propensity to be aggressive. (Moss, 2016) The task was originally done in English, but was localized to Arabic in order to avoid any difficulties for the participants to finish the task given that they have different levels of proficiency in English. Below is a copy of this task.

For instance, the word fragment ـ نابل  can be completed into سنابل (meaning flower spikes), قنابل (meaning bombs), تنابل (meaning stupid) or حنابل (meaning fur). The answer حنابل is considered a neutral word, meanwhile سنابل is considered a positive one, and تنابل or قنابل are considered to be indicative of aggressive behavior. The table below shows the possible anticipated responses for each fragment and what they correspond to.

Table 2: Possible Responses for Question 1 and Their Interpretations

Fragment Aggressive Positive Neutral
ـ نابل قنابل سنابل حنابل، تنابل
ـ رّاء ضرّاء سرّاء، قرّاء حرّاء
ـ لاك هلاك ملاك
ـ بر قبر صبر حبر، جبر، عبر، خبر
ـ رح جرح فرح، مرح شرح، طرح،
يق ـ ل يقتل يقبل يقول
ـ مار دمار، حمار ثمار عمار
ـ ـ ور قبور سرور، صبور أمور
ــ أس فأس كأس رأس
ـ رب حرب، ضرب، هرب طرب عرب، شرب، درب، قرب، غرب


Method of evaluation: Each response sheet was evaluated with a percentage grade that ranges from -100% to 100%, where 0 is considered neutral, -100% is extremely violent and 100 is extremely non-violent. The responses were evaluated according to the following guidelines:

  • A neutral term corresponds to 0 points.
  • An aggressive term corresponds to -1 points.
  • A positive term corresponds to +1 points.
  • Any non-words or omitted responses were disregarded in evaluation.
  • The points were accumulated and calculated out of the total number of valid responses. (If all fragments are completed and the words are valid, the total is 10) The answer was then converted to a percentage, by multiplying the fraction by 100.
  1. Drawing section: the second part of the questionnaire was a drawing section, where participants were asked to complete two tasks. The first task asked the participants to draw a picture illustrating their perception of the current world. The second task asked the participants to draw a picture portraying their dream world. (It could be anything they aspire for or dream of). The pictures below are copies of the two tasks.

This section was designed to examine the subjects’ perception of the current world, and their dreams and aspirations for the future. An analysis of the respondents’ drawings as well as a comparison between both groups is provided in the discussion section.

  1. Section 3: Deriving Conclusions: The third and final section of the questionnaire presented the subjects with three common topics in the form of extracts, with each extract followed by three statements summarizing one of the main ideas in the paragraph One statement encapsulates a neutral aspect of the topic, one statement captures a positive aspect, and one statement is about the negative aspect of the topic. Subjects were asked to choose the sentence that best describes the paragraph. In other words, they were asked to select the idea that they best remembered about the topic.

For example, the first topic was about Syria. The first statement was that Syria is an Arab Republic, whose capital is Damascus, which is considered to be amongst the oldest cities in the world. This sentence was considered to be neutral. The second statement claims that the Syrian cuisine as a very famous and elegant cuisine, containing a variety of delicious dishes. This sentence was accounted for as positive. The final statement describes the Syrian civil war to have led to the prevalence of violence and death. This statement was deemed as negative. The figures below display a copy of this task.

This section was designed to measure the children’s attitude towards thinking. For instance, a child who chooses the negative statement is likely to be a more negative thinker, whereas a child who selected the neutral statement is a neutralist, and the child who opted for the positive sentences is a more positive thinker.

Method of evaluation: Each response sheet will be evaluated on a scale of   -3 to 3, where 3 is very positive thinking, and -3 is very negative thinking. 0 is considered to be neutral. Any score above 0 is positive, and any score below zero is negative. The papers were graded according to the following guidelines:

  • Each negative response obtains -1 points.
  • Each positive response receives 1 point.
  • Neutral responses are accounted for zero points.
  • Omitted or unclear answers will not be counted, and the score will be adjusted according to the number of valid responses.

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Participants and Sample Groups

Zaid Tabaza

Participants and sample groups

The sample consisted of two groups. The first group was a non-refugee group, and the second was a refugee group. Both groups comprised of participants of both genders aged 9-17 years old. The questionnaire received 25 responses from each group.

Graph 1 below displays the ages of the participants in the non-refugee group. According to the graph, the majority of non-refugee participants were aged thirteen years old (10 participants), followed by fourteen years old (8 participants), ten years old (3 participants), twelve years old (2 participants) and finally eleven years old (1 participant). None of the non-refugee subjects were aged below ten or above fourteen.

Graph 2 below shows the distribution of the ages of the subjects in the refugee group. Based on the graph, the most common age amongst the refugee sample was 16 (8 participants), followed by fourteen (4 subjects), and ten (3 subjects). An equal number of participants (2) of ages seventeen, fifteen, thirteen, eleven, and nine were included in the refugee sample. This group incorporated subjects of all ages within the range 9-17 except for 12.

Table 1 below classifies the participants of both groups according to gender. It indicates that 60% of the participants in the refugee group were males and 40% were females, meanwhile 44% of the non-refugee children were males and 56% were females.

Table 1: Group Distribution According to Gender

Group Male % Female %
Refugee 60 40
Non-refugee 44 56

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Zaid Tabaza

Over the past 15 years, war has become prevalent in the Middle East, starting with the Iraq war in 2003, up till the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars that began in 2010 and 2014 and have lingered to current time. The scars of these wars have manifested in infrastructural annihilation, physical harm, economic and educational deterioration, and the psychological damage left on people. Such warfare has precipitated the extensive influx of refugees in attempt to seek asylum in neighboring countries. Jordan, being in the midst of this warzone, has been amongst the most countries to receive refugees. The most recent statistical studies have indicated that Jordan is a home for around 1.2 million Syrian refugees, 55% of which are legally registered. Refugees, having experienced war, were exposed to violence in several ways, including witnessing military action or terrorism happen in front of their own eyes, losing friends or family members, hearing the piercing sounds of tanks obliterating their homes and countries, and encountering physical harm themselves.


In specific, and as it relates to children, the psychological impact of war on children refugees is more accentuated, since they are more vulnerable and dependent on their communities. Moreover, war has robbed children of basic emotional needs, such as supportive and strong family members, a stable life, consistent education, a healthy upbringing, and a sense of security. Children refugees constitute a lost generation who are expected to participate in constructing their country and to be the essence of their community. One of the topics that haven’t been extensively researched is the psychological effect of exposure to war on children refugees. Therefore, I found it of paramount importance to gauge the psychological and mental effect that their experiences might have on them, particularly with regards to propensity to violence, perception of the current world, dreams for the future, and attitude towards thinking. This study aims to investigate the psychological effects of exposure to war on children refugees aged 9-17 years old. I hypothesize that children refugees will have a higher tendency to aggression, a darker perception of the world, minimal less hope for the future, and high more negative thinking.

Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham are amongst the very few psychoanalysts to consider studying a similar topic. They wrote a book called “War and Children” during World War II. The book concluded that children suffer more exaggerated psychological implications from war, and emphasized the importance of paying extra care towards children during war conditions by continuing to provide them with psychological support and sufficient, appropriate education. (War and Children) Other research done by Fuaad Freh in 2015 shows that children have a high propensity to develop traumatic disorders, such as PTSD, as a result of war, and therefore should receive more attention and care. Research made through available sources (mainly the internet) did not reveal similar research about the effect of exposure to violence on children refugees with regards to the aspects being considered in this study.

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Zaid Tabaza

Undergoing a war experience leaves numerous adverse marks on a society, interacting with different aspects of human life, including physical health, education, workforce, destruction of infrastructure, as well as the psychological harm caused to people. In a war environment, children are denied of rudimentary necessities, such as feelings of safety and protection, empathy, a proper education, and a warm, loving community. Such deprivation leads to the hindrance of the psychological development of children. Therefore, amongst different age groups, children tend to be more prone to psychological damage from long-term violence. This paper examines such effects through a comparison-group study between a controlled sample of refugee and non-refugee children aged 9-17 years old. Subjects of the study were administered to a questionnaire that is subdivided into 3 sections, each exploring an aspect of either tendency towards aggression, perception of the current world and aspirations for the future, or attitude towards thinking. The study was hypothesized to indicate that refugee children exhibit higher tendencies to violence, a more pessimistic outlook on the world, limited hope for the future, and more negative thinking as opposed to non-refugee children. Data obtained primarily supports the hypothesis, showing that there are notable variations between both groups in terms of the propensity to be violent, the children’s view of the world and their hope for the future, as well as slighter differences with regards to the degree to which they are negative thinkers. Alongside this, other observations associated with the children’s ability to comprehend and complete the task were noted.

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Refugee Children Conditions Continue to Worsen

Zaid Tabaza

The UN has reported that the number of global lone refugee children is approximated to be 300 thousand. Of course, this is only a rough estimate that doesn’t take into account areas that don’t release data, meaning that such numbers can be dramatically higher than projected.

As many children are traveling without company, they are exposed to the treacherous dangers of the streets and have become subject to abuse and victims of rape. Alongside this, several refugee children, including some of those who have succeeded in gaining asylum, are deprived of a primary education. According to a report issued by the UNHCR in 2016, it is estimated that only 50% of refugee children are receiving a primary education.

Refugee Childrens Traumatic Experiences

Refugee children often encounter harm, abuse, and assault when attempting to seek asylum from other countries. Many refugee children have described their traumatic experiences. For example, Mary is a seventeen-year-old refugee from Nigeria who has reported being raped by a smuggler after he threatened her to not take her to Europe if she refused to sleep with him.

3 Factors Hindering Refugee Children Education

The education of refugee children has been hindered by many factors, including the social, economic and political ones. From a social viewpoint, many families have prioritized educating males over females. In addition, a growing concern is that refugee children may be targeted by bullies at school; hence preventing successful social integration.

From the economic aspect, some refugee parents may prefer not to send their children to school in order for the children to support them in labor. The education of refugee children is also limited by the shortage of space, as not all schools have enough space to accept a large number of children.

As well, lone refugee children who are not enrolled in a refugee camp and haven’t found a place that accommodates them are also unable to receive an education due to their constant displacement. Also, some refugees have reported not being able to enroll their children in schools due to their lack of residency, which is a prerequisite for some schools.

In conclusion, refugee children continue to struggle to establish a life in another country and to obtain an education and many remain unaided. They also suffer from abuse and are faced by multiple threats in the course of their journeys.


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About the Author

Zaid Tabaza

Zaid Tabaza is a 15-year-old high school student who attends the Amman Baccalaureate School, where he studies the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program. Having always lived in Jordan, Zaid has witnessed the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars that have occurred in the Middle East during the last decades and has observed their numerous implications. Zaid has always taken a keen interest in exploring the different areas of psychology, including children psychology. As part of completing the IB MYP program, students are required to complete a personal project, which is a project in which they explore their personal interests, set a certain goal to achieve by creating a product, which has to be submitted by a certain deadline. Zaid deemed this as an excellent opportunity to explore his interest in psychology in further depth and to address the issue of the severe psychological repercussions that refugee children suffer from as an outcome of war and conflict by raising awareness. Zaid decided to accomplish this by carrying out a study about this topic for his personal project. This website reports the study that he has conducted.

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