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Terrorism and War Sharpen Focus on Traumatic Effects of Violence on Babies and Toddlers

Media Contact: Gina Davis (202) 864-2934

WASHINGTON, DC – October 24, 2023 – In response to the violence and trauma experienced by babies, young children and families in Israel and Gaza, ZERO TO THREE Executive Director Matthew Melmed issued the following statement:

“My heart breaks for the babies and children who have been subjected to unthinkable violence in Israel and Gaza. At ZERO TO THREE we see this as a moment to recommit ourselves to ensuring that every child grows up healthy, safe and loved. Putting babies and toddlers in the crosshairs of terror and war is never acceptable. The need to protect babies has never been more acute.

“Across the globe–from Ukraine to Darfur and beyond–children are experiencing the devastating effects of terrorism, war and other violent instabilities. Science has shown us exposure to such violence has a deep and lasting effect on children, including babies. Trauma can shape the brain architecture of infants and toddlers for a lifetime.

“It’s difficult for parents and caregivers under profound stress to convey the sense of unconditional love and security that every baby needs and deserves, and that instability can also have lifelong consequences. Even miles and continents away from an explosion or gunshot, countless families are grappling with how to best support their children who may be seeing or hearing about violence. And many families have relatives and close friends in war-torn regions who are being directly affected. ZERO TO THREE has developed several free resources for parents, caregivers and professionals who support them, that offer guidance on helping young children grieve and process traumatic experiences and enabling them to provide the best care for babies and themselves in times of war and turmoil:

  • A Big Impact on Little Kids: Understanding How Traumatic Experiences Affect Very Young Children

  • How to Talk to Young Children About War (available in Ukranian, Arabic and Hebrew)

  • Helping Toddlers Cope with Grief and Death (available in Ukranian, Arabic and Hebrew)

  • Mindfulness and Self Care: Building a Resilient Community and Culture of Caring

  • Children’s Book: Once I Was Very Very Scared by Chandra Gosh Ippen – available in the following languages:

    • Arabic

    • ASL (Sign)

    • German

    • Norwegian

    • Spanish

    • Swedish

    • Turkish

    • Vietnamese

We are working to translate all of the resources listed into additional languages and will make them available on

Partner Resources (Developed by Joy D. Osofsky, PhD and Howard J. Osofsky, MD, PhD)

    • The Importance of Self-Care During and Following Terrorism and War

    • Considerations for Young Children During and After Terrorism and War

At this time of trauma and grief, all of us at ZERO TO THREE wish babies and families throughout the world shalom, salaam, and peace.

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