At what age should we educate children about war? At what age and how can we talk with children about the Holocaust? The Anne Frank House aims to create awareness in children, adolescents and adults about World War II, the Holocaust, and of course, Anne Frank in particular. Although their policy states that children younger than ten years old should not enter the House, approximately 45,000 children below age ten do visit this museum each year. This evoked a collaboration between the Anne Frank House and Carolien to study the effects of young children's visit on their emotional well-being.
On December 11 2013, Carolien presented the first outcomes of the study to the Anne Frank House. Over the summer, master students Linsey and Rosanne tested about 100 children (8 - 10 years old) and their parents who visited the Anne Frank House. The first outcomes show that their visit to the museum evoked feelings of sadness in children, but also feelings of anger when watching films about what happened to Anne or during the war. A follow-up study will be designed to gain a better understanding of the nature of this anger: is this perhaps a kind of anger that increases children's and adolescents' social awareness and feelings for social justice? Our new team member, Rina Ghafoerkhan, who has a broad experience with children in war zones, will coordinate this second phase of our collaboration with the Anne Frank House.
During the summer of 2015, the Anne Frank House organized a series of summer lectures for professionals on how to deal with discrimination. Carolien was invited to give a lecture about the role of emotions and empathy for others on an individual level (in friendships), but also regarding empathy on a more abstract level, also known as “societal concern”. Which children and adolescents are willing to donate their time or their money for an organization like War Child or Greenpeace? In the discussion that followed, the professionals (police officers, youth workers, high school teachers) were especially triggered by the positive value of anger. Instead of trying to get rid of it, anger is an emotion that activates people to make a change. The question is how to guide that energy in a way that fits with societal norms and values.
To view the lectures, please click here.