Children need

Safe Homes

The Psychological Impact of
House Demolitions and Bombardments, I
ncursions and Evictions

“By home I mean the room or two that has become associated in the child’s mind with mother and father, and the other children, and the cat. And there is a shelf or cupboard where the toys are kept”
(D.W. Winnicott)


Home is where the child grows and develops within the family circles; a nest for young chicks to be raised into birds in. Homes and houses allow parents to provide children with physical and emotional security and a platform for the developing self.

Homes and secure bases: In the child’s psyche, the house is the tangible representation of the containing and protecting parental envelop. A firm house – like the secure attachment with the parents themselves – becomes the secure base, from which the child can explore and engage his or her expanding world.

Homecomings, both literally and figuratively, are many times a return to a familiar haven that fuel our sense of well-being.

Houses and psychological needs: While houses literally provide family members with a roof over their heads and other vital physical needs, they also serve important psychological needs: The house contour contributes to the development of differentiation between self and outer world, and provide privacy and security; The holding it provides allows for emotional restoration and allows the house residents to lower defenses, to feel freer and to allow themselves be exposed in essential activities such as sleep, dreaming and play; In the house spaces they practice intimate rites, including eating and bathing, rituals which provide children with the basic rhythms of their life; The smells of the house and its sounds contribute to a sense of belonging to the family, to its root and its culture; The gateways of the house enable regulated interaction with outer reality.

A loss of a house might be an overwhelming experience, resulting in existential insecurity and traumatic consequences. When children lose the durability of the house in which they live, they need more than ever their parents’ and their community’s stability; Therefore, when the loss of a house is not accompanied by a narrative of active choice, when adults themselves are helpless and lacking support, and when the parents can not maintain the house as a sheltering space protected from external impingements and dangerous reality – children’s psychological development can be threatened. Disrupted sleep is particularly detrimental to the functioning of a family.

When parents feel the house is not safe enough for them, children seem to be imperiled.


In a nutshell: A look at reality in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel


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