• Political violence;
  • conflict;
  • psychiatric symptoms;
  • adolescence

Background:  This study examined relations between Israeli adolescents’ political violence exposure and psychiatric consequences over seven years around the second Intifada and possible differential effects according to age and gender.

Methods:  Cross-sectional data was collected from 3667 adolescents aged 10–18, constituting two age groups of early and late adolescents sampled in three different exposure periods: pre-Intifada, Intifada peak, and Intifada recession.

Results:  The first hypothesis predicting a main effect of severity of political violence exposure on psychiatric indices was confirmed for all Brief Symptom Index scales. The second hypothesis predicting a main effect of exposure period was confirmed with higher psychopathological indices at the Intifada peak than at the pre-Intifada and receding Intifada periods. The exploratory question of possible moderating effects in the relation between Political Life Events exposure and exposure period to psychiatric indices showed that higher levels of exposure to political violence were associated with higher rates of symptomatology for both younger and older adolescents. For both genders, a general direct relation emerged between level of severity of political violence exposure and severity of psychiatric outcome, but differently according to Intifada exposure period.

Conclusions:  Findings document the psychiatric toll paid by adolescents who grow up in protracted conflict and political violence, emphasizing the delicate interaction between individual and conflict factors.