The Experience of Forced Relocation as Expressed in Children's Drawings

Orit Nuttman-Shwartz, Efrat Huss, Avital Altman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Forced relocation of people from their homes due to changes in borders, war, or natural disasters has been recognized in the literature as a stressor which has affected communities throughout the world. However, the responses of latency-aged children to these stressors have not been sufficiently addressed. In an attempt to fill that gap, this article presents a phenomenological and diagnostic analysis of drawings made by Israeli children aged 7-9 who were evacuated from localities in the Gaza Strip area. The drawings indicate that the experience of forced relocation remained a significant one for the children, even 2 years after the event. The children's drawings reveal the difficulties they experienced, as well as the coping strategies that they used to work through the experience and adjust to the situation. The drawings indicate that with the passage of time their perceptions of the evacuation were not traumatic. The main coping strategies reflected in the children's drawings are defense and distancing mechanisms, as well as family and community support. In addition, the children included numerous ideological statements in their drawings, which evidently reflect an attempt to understand the meaning of the relocation, and emphasize their group affiliation. As a result, it is important to include the components of ideology, community, and family in evaluations and psychosocial interventions in order to promote the children's constructive coping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-407
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • Coping strategies
  • Evacuees
  • Forced relocation
  • Ideology
  • Trauma


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