attitudes of several cohorts of parents about war and peace
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ATTITUDES OF SEVERAL COHORTS OF PARENTS ABOUT WAR AND PEACE. Judith Myers-Walls, Ph.D. Larissa V. Frias Soo-Young Hong Child Development and Family Studies Purdue University. Abstract.

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attitudes of several cohorts of parents about war and peace


Judith Myers-Walls, Ph.D.

Larissa V. Frias

Soo-Young Hong

Child Development and Family Studies

Purdue University


The attitudes of 140 parents about war and peace were surveyed using a Likert scale in the Parents, Children, War, Peace and Terrorism Questionnaire. Four cohorts

of parents, who experienced different threats of war and

conflicts (Gulf war, Kosovo war, 9/11 attacks, and the

Korean nuclear threat) included samples of US parents

in 1991, 1999 to 2000, 2002 and a sample of Korean

parents in 2003. Results showed that the parents

generally leaned towards peace and non-violence.

There were also significant differences in their attitudes

towards war and peace. When parents were more

exposed to the war itself or its threat, they may be

more likely to support peaceful approaches.

  • Families are constantly exposed in different ways to ongoing events of conflict, both domestic and international. Different people have responded to these situations with a variety of attitudes, reactions, and values about war, peace, and terrorism.
why study this
Why study this?
  • Family acts as the child’s primary environment for socialization, thus the critical role of parents to communicate values (Jerome, 1999)
  • Parents become the frequent and main source of information for children (Austin, Roberts, & Nass, 1990) through family communication.
  • This study focuses on the issue of parents’ attitudes about peace, war, and terrorism
review of literature
Review of literature
  • In 1991, parents thought that the Gulf War was a mistake.
  • As part of their role as parents, it is their responsibility to facilitate their children’s understanding of issues like peace and war.
  • In times of political conflict, parents should provide support to their children by listening to their ideas and understanding their emotional reactions.

(Myers-Walls, 2001)

review of literature6
Review of literature
  • After a factor analysis of the 13 attitude scale items on war and conflict of a sample of parents after the September 11 attacks, four major themes emerged:
      • that war is/is not a good solution to international problems
      • that war is/is not justified
      • that a nuclear war will/will not happen in their or their children’s lifetime
      • that they agree/disagree with the military action of the US against terrorism
  • The sample of parents reported the strongest support for the items stating that war will never help in solving international conflicts and that people can do things to stop a war and not just by military force.

(Frias, Myers-Walls, and Khosravi, 2004)

context of the conflicts war
Context of the conflicts/war
  • Gulf war – When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and there was a threat of Saudi Arabian invasion, the U.S. launched Operation Desert Shield/Storm later that year to protect Saudi Arabia. Troops were sent and in the early part of 1991, after Iraq’s non-compliance with UN resolutions, an air assault was ordered by the U.S. and coalition forces which ended when a formal cease-fire agreement was agreed upon by the coalition and Iraq in April of the same year.
  • Kosovo war - 1999: A brief war fought between March and June 1999 between NATO and Serbia over the status of the Yugoslavian province of Kosovo. Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic sent Serbian troops in 1998 to take back areas of Kosovo which was then controlled by ethnic Albanian guerrillas. This triggered NATO with the U.S. support to bomb the Serbian targets as they continue to fight the Albanian insurgents. A large population in Kosovo was displaced because of this war. Finally, Serbia agreed to a peace agreement sponsored by the United Nations.
9/11 – The September 11, 2001 suicide attacks were carried out by hijackers affiliated with Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Four hijacked commercial planes were crashed almost simultaneously into the Twin Towers of World Trade Center and a part of the Pentagon, and a fourth suspected to target the U.S. Capitol crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after resistance from the passengers. Thousands died during these terrorist attacks.
  • South Korea – Antagonism between North and South Korea stems from the early years of 1950s when communist North Korea attacked South Korea to run the country. US intervened at first, and later with the help of the United Nations, South Korea was fully reclaimed. In the late 1990’s, the long-felt tension between the two countries erupted into an open aggression which eased down when the South Korean president launched his Sunshine Policy to institute peace and reconciliation with their neighbor. On the other hand, North Korea continues with its nuclear weapons program which makes its neighboring countries feel the tension of the threat.
  • Four cohorts of parents of 3- to 15-year-old children from South Korea and different US states.
      • Post-Gulf war (1991) -US
      • Post-Kosovo (1999-2000) - US
      • Post-9/11 (2002) -US
      • South Korean (2003)
  • None of the participants have significant military experience
  • The Parents, Children, War, Peace and Terrorism Questionnaire was used.
      • 13 items in the Parents’ Attitude Likert scale were administered to all parents except the South Korean sample who just answered the first 9 items since nos.10-13 are situational statements (e.g. U.S. military action in the Middle East is the best way to deal with the situation).
      • Cronbach’s alpha is 0.790.
factors and scale items
Factors and scale* items

Four factors that emerged again after factor analysis:

Factor 1: War is not a good solution to international problems (Sometimes war is the best solution to international problems*; There is nothing an individual person can do to stop a large-scale war*; The best way to avoid war is through military strength and mutual deterrence*; The best way to avoid war is through disarmament)

Factor 2: War and taking lives are not justified (All wars are sin/evil; Sometimes killing is justified*; The lives of all persons are equally valuable)

Factor 3: A nuclear war will not happen in their or their child’s lifetime (There probably will be a nuclear war in my lifetime*; There probably will be a nuclear war in my child’s lifetime*)

Factor 4: Disagreement on U.S. military action against terrorism (Military retaliation against terrorism is a big mistake and the conflict should be handled in other ways; I think U.S. military action in the Middle East is the best way to deal with the situation*; I think it’s a big mistake to use U.S. military action to deal with terrorism; I think we should use military force until Osama Bin Laden’s power and all terrorists are completely destroyed*)

(* Items mentioned are from the 2001 Parent Attitude Scale)

analyses of parent attitude scale
Analyses of parent attitude scale
  • Frequency and mean scores were computed to show the trends of the parents’ attitudes regarding war, peace, and terrorism.
  • Statistical comparison of means (ANOVA) and frequencies of the attitude scores by cohort of parents
  • Post hoc analyses to find what specific cohorts are significantly different
Mean Scores of Parents’ Attitudes(5=Strongly Agree, 4=Agree, 3=Undecided, 2=Disagree; 1=Strongly Disagree)

M= 3.224 SD=.867

M= 3.477 SD=1.073

M= 3.360 SD=.943

M= 3.134 SD=.705

factor 1 war is not a good solution to international problems significant cohort differences
Factor 1.War is not a good solution to international problems(significant cohort differences)
factor 2 war and taking lives are not justified significant cohort differences
Factor 2. War and taking lives are not justified (significant cohort differences)
Factor 3. A nuclear war will not happen in my or my children's lifetime (significant cohort differences)
factor 4 disagreement on us military action against terrorism significant cohort differences
Factor 4. Disagreement on US military action against terrorism (significant cohort differences)
discussion of the findings
Discussion of the findings
  • Global change in attitudes leaning toward peace than war over time (Mueller, 1991).
      • After the 1st world war, anti-war movements were organized and in different places in the world, the virtues of peace were more appreciated by people
  • Proximity to current or potential war
      • When war or the threat of war is closer and the tension and destruction are more felt by people, the response to the situations may be leaning towards peaceful settlement and negotiations rather than escalating the conflict.
  • Amount of exposure to the situations
      • More awareness and knowledge of the war situation may lead to more understanding of peaceful alternatives to war.
  • Cultural influence
      • South Korean culture practices the Confucian principles which promote peace and social order in human society.
  • Parents’ attitudes generally leaned towards peace and non-violence, and this may be increasing over time.
  • Parents differ in their attitudes as they experience different salient historical events.
  • When parents have more direct experience of threats of war and terrorist acts, they may be more likely to support peaceful approaches.
  • Development of a scale to measure exposure to political violence in different areas
  • In doing research in this topic, one needs to know and understand the context of the events surrounding the participants
  • For practitioners working with families, there should be awareness and understanding of current political situations and how these influence the attitudes of parents
future directions
Future directions
  • Further comparison of the relationship between quantitative and qualitative parent data
  • Further analyses of relationship between parent and child data including child’s reactions and child characteristics (e.g. gender, age)
  • More diverse sample of parents should be included in future research