Principle Investigators and Key Personnel - Project History - Publications - Contact Information

Principle Investigators and Key Personnel:

Mark Cummings, Ph.D., Christine Merrilees, Ph.D., and Laura Taylor, M.A., University of Notre Dame; Marcie Goeke-Morey, Ph.D., Catholic University of America; Pete Shirlow, Ph.D., Queen's University-Belfast; Ed Cairns*, Ph.D., University of Ulster.

gunman
Impact of paramilitary presence:
One of Belfast's many iconic murals

Project History:

The Northern Ireland Project is a longitudinal study of relations between political violence and the well-being of children living in Belfast. Utilizing an ecological, process-oriented model, the study seeks to better understand the pathways between political and sectarian violence and ordinary crime, family functioning, and adolescents' adjustment.

Although Northern Ireland has taken positive steps toward sustainable peace, children and families continue to live in segregated spaces. Even after the 1998 Belfast Agreement, post-accord conflict and tension persist, especially among interfaced communities, that is, two segregated communities (one Catholic and one Protestant) living in adjacent neighborhoods. Moreover, sectarian antisocial behavior has taken on new forms, increasing the risk that youth become perpetrators, witnesses, or victims of sectarianism and antisocial behavior.

barbedwire
Continued segregation:
Interface wall delineating Catholic and Protestant communities

This study seeks to identify multiple processes within the overlapping contexts of the social ecology of families living within a society that has experienced protracted political conflict. The goal is to provide better understanding of intergroup relationships and the underlying interpersonal and psychological processes, including protective and positive influences. This knowledge may help understand the threat of renewed violent conflict, or alternatively, the possibilities for the long-term stabilization of peace processes. Moreover, this study provides a foundation for studying the effects of political violence on children and families in other areas that have experienced ethnic conflict (Cummings, Goeke-Morey, Schermerhorn, Merrilees, & Cairns, 2009).

The Northern Ireland Project includes three distinct phases. In the first phase, focus groups were conducted as a means of providing a basis for understanding how community violence and crime are experienced in Belfast. These focus groups were also used to develop culturally-informed measures of child exposure to sectarian and ordinary (nonsectarian) crime, and a measure of child security in the community. The second phase piloted these measures of community violence and child security (Goeke-Morey et al., 2009). The final phase of the study included a large-scale interview with mothers and children and adolescents across 24 different neighborhoods in Belfast. The first wave of data collection included interviews with 700 mothers and children. The study has completed its sixth wave of data collection.

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Social and economic deprivation:
Homes abandoned and afflicted by secretarian violence

Publications:

Merrilees, C. E., Taylor, L. K., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., Cummings, E. M., & Cairns, E. (in press). The protective role of group identity: Sectarian antisocial behavior and adolescent emotion problems. Child Development.

Cummings, E. M., Merrilees, C. E., Taylor, L. K., Shirlow, P., Goeke-Morey, M. C., & Cairns, E. (in press). Longitudinal relations between sectarian and non-sectarian community violence and child adjustment in Northern Ireland. Development and Psychopathology.

Cummings, E. M., Taylor, L. K., Merrilees, C. E., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cairns, E. (in press). Relations between political violence and child adjustment: A four-wave test of the role of emotional insecurity about community. Developmental Psychology.

Goeke-Morey, M. C., Taylor, L. K., Merrilees, C. E., Shirlow, P., & Cummings, E. M. (in press). Adolescents' educational outcomes in a social ecology of parenting, family, and community risks in Northern Ireland. School Psychology International.

Goeke-Morey, M. C., Cairns, E., Merrilees, C. E., Schermerhorn, A. C., Shirlow, P., & Cummings, E. M. (in press). Maternal religiosity, family stressors and resources, and children's attachment security in Northern Ireland. Social Development.

Merrilees, C. E., Cairns, E., Taylor, L. K., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cummings, E. M. (in press). Social identity and youth aggressive and delinquent behaviors in a context of political violence. Political Psychology.

Taylor, L. K., Merrilees, C. E., Cairns, E., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cummings, E. M.(2013). Risk and resilience: The moderating role of social coping for maternal mental health in a setting of political conflict. International Journal of Psychology, 48(4), 591-603.

Shirlow, P., Taylor, L. K., Merrilees, C. E., Goeke-Morey, M. C., & Cummings, E. M. (2013). Hate crime: Record or perception? Space and Polity, 17:2, 237-252.

Cummings, E. M., Merrilees, C. E., Schermerhorn, A. C., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cairns, E. (2012). Political violence and child adjustment: Longitudinal tests of sectarian antisocial behavior, marital conflict and emotional security as explanatory mechanisms. Child Development, 83, 461-468.

Taylor, L. K., Merrilees, C. E., Campbell, A., Shirlow, P., Cairns, E., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Schermerhorn, A. C., & Cummings, E. M. (2011). Sectarian and nonsectarian violence : Mothers' appraisals of political conflict in Northern Ireland. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 17, 343-366.

Merrilees, C. E., Cummings, E. M., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Schermerhorn, A. C., Shirlow, P., & Cairns, E. (2011). Parenting control in contexts of political violence: Testing bi-directional relations between violence exposure and control in post-accord Belfast. Parenting: Science and Practice, 11, 308-325.

Cummings, E. M., Merrilees, C.E., Schermerhorn, A.C., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cairns, E. (2011). Longitudinal Pathways between Political Violence and Child Adjustment: The Role of Emotional Security about the Community in Northern Ireland. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 213-224.

Merrilees, C. E., Cairns, E., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Schermerhorn, A. C., Shirlow, P., & Cummings, E. M. (2011). Associations between mothers' experience with the troubles in Northern Ireland and mothers' and children's psychological functioning: the
moderating role of social identity. Journal of Community Psychology, 39, 60-75.

Cummings, E. M., Schermerhorn, A. C., Merrilees, C. E., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cairns, E. (2010). Political violence and child adjustment in Northern Ireland: Testing pathways in a social-ecological model including single-and two-parent families. Developmental Psychology, 46, 827-841.

Cummings, E. M., Merrilees, C. E., Schermerhorn, A. C., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Shirlow, P., & Cairns, E. (2010). Testing a social ecological model for relations between political violence and child adjustment in Northern Ireland. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 405-418.

Goeke-Morey, M., Cummings, E., Ellis, K., Merrilees, C., Schermerhorn, A., Shirlow, P., & Cairns, E. (2009). The differential impact on children of inter- and intra-community violence in Northern Ireland. Journal of Peace Psychology, 15, 367-383.

Cummings, E. M., Goeke-Morey, M. C., Schermerhorn, A. C., Merrilees, C. E., & Cairns, E. (2009). Children and Political Violence from a Social Ecological Perspective: Implications from Research on Children and Families in Northern Ireland, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review,12,16-38.

This research was supported by NICHD grant 046933-05 to E. Mark Cummings.

We would like to thank the many families in Northern Ireland who have participated in the project. We would also like to express our appreciation to project staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students at the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Ulster. Initial phases of the research project were partially supported by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies (http://kroc.nd.edu/) and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies (http://nanovic.nd.edu).

peacemural
Hope for a peaceful future:
Peace mural showing Northern Ireland's proud history and bright future

Contact Information:

For additional information about Northern Ireland Project, please contact Dr. E. Mark Cummings at cummings10@nd.edu.

Or contact/visit the web pages of the Northern Ireland team:

Marcie Goeke-Morey - http://psychology.cua.edu/faculty/goeke-morey.cfm

Christine Merrilees - cmerrile@nd.edu

Peter Shirlow - http://qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofLaw/Staff/DrPeteShirlow/

Laura Taylor - ltaylo12@nd.edu

*Our dear friend and colleague Ed Cairns has passed away. Ed was a leader on the project and a visionary in the field of youth and political violence. Inspired by Ed's vision, we continue to work toward greater understanding of the many ways that political violence affects youth.

 


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