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Nature, severity and origins of fears among children and adolescents with respect to age, gender and socioeconomic status

Serim, Begüm
The present study aimed to investigate the fears of female and male children and adolescents between the ages of 8 and 18 from different socioeconomic levels. Additionally, the origins of children’s and adolescents’ fears were examined. To reach the aims, the study was divided into two stages. In the first stage adaptation study of Fear Survey Schedule for Children-AM (Burnham, 1995) into Turkish was conducted. Two different samples were utilized in stage one. First sample was comprised of 355 participants (173 females and 182 males) with a mean age of 12.66 (SD=3.05). Second sample was comprised of 1315 participants (642 females and 673 males) with a mean age of 13.15 (SD=3.18). Second stage of the study was the main study. Second sample of the first stage including 1315 participants was utilized in stage two. Beside Fear Survey Schedule for Children, assessing the origins of children’s and adolescents’ fears were utilized in the present study. Results of the study pointed that female children from low socioeconomic status at age 8 were the most fearful group among all children and adolescents. Also, for all fear factors female children and especially from low socioeconomic status reported higher level of fear than male preadolescents and adolescents. In general, it can be said that being female, from low socioeconomic status and young especially at age 8 is related to more intense fears. Among all children and adolescents, fears of children at age 8, 9 and 10 were significantly different than fears of preadolescents and adolescents at various ages, but they were not significantly different than each other. Fears of preadolescents at age 11, 12 and 13 were significantly different than preadolescents at least 2 years older than themselves. Overall most commonly endorsed fears were “someone in my family dying”, “going to Hell”, “death of a closed person (grandparent, best friend etc.)”, “abuse”, “God”, “AIDS”, “someone in my family having an accident”, “my parents separating or getting divorced” and “terrorist attacks”. Findings related to the origins of children’s and adolescents’ fears indicated that 64.8% of all children learnt fear by modeling, 51.8% of all children learnt fear by negative information transmission and 35.8% all of children fear by experiences (conditioning). Negative information transmission intensified 45.7% of all children and adolescents, modeling intensified 49% of all children and adolescents and experience (conditioning) intensified 44.8% of all children and adolescents.