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Keywords:

  • School-based interventions;
  • children;
  • trauma;
  • terrorism;
  • PTSD;
  • depression

Background:  Since September 2000 Israeli children have been exposed to a large number of terrorist attacks. A universal, school-based intervention for dealing with the threat of terrorism as well as with terror-related symptoms, ERASE-Stress (ES), was evaluated in a male religious middle school in southern Israel. The program was administered by the homeroom teachers as part of the school curriculum. It consists of 12 classroom sessions each lasting 90 minutes, and included psycho-educational material, skill training and resiliency strategies delivered to the students by homeroom teachers.

Methods:  One hundred and fourteen 7th and 8th grade students were randomly assigned to the ES intervention or were part of a waiting list (WL). They were assessed on measures of posttraumatic symptomatology, depression, somatic symptoms and functional problems before and 3 months after the intervention or the WL period.

Results:  Three months after the program ended, students in the experimental group showed significant reduction in all measures compared to the waiting-list control group.

Conclusions:  The ERASE-Stress program may help students suffering from terror-related posttraumatic symptoms and mitigate the negative effects of future traumatic experiences. Furthermore, a school-based universal program such as the ERASE-Stress may potentially serve as an important and effective component of a community mental health policy for communities affected by terrorism.