I was googling for something else related to ELU and came across the page heading Pediatric Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness which according to the introduction is a

new comprehensive report (...) practical resources that pediatricians can consult in planning for and responding to natural disasters and bioterrorist events.

Source: https://archive.ahrq.gov/research/pedprep/pedtersum.htm

It is indeed extremely comprehensive and I appreciate the initiative, but I have never heard the term 'pediatric terrorism', which unfortunately conjures up mental images of infants with Kalashnikoffs.

So what does 'Pediatric Terrorism' mean in the context of 'Pediatric Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness'?

  • Do not use comments to answer (post an answer instead), praise or rebuke (vote instead), discuss (chat instead), suggest edits (edit instead), or comment on site design or policy (post at meta instead). Use comments to ask for clarification, suggest changes, or offer short-lived information.
    – MetaEd
    Oct 31, 2017 at 15:34
  • The title strangely refers to the phrase "pediatric terrorism" which appears nowhere (as far as I can see).
    – Fattie
    Nov 1, 2017 at 14:10
  • 1
    Thanks @Fattie for editing the title but 'what is pediatric terrorism?' was the question in my mind on reading the page title, which is is what I asked here and what the answers adressed. I now realize that the article title was written in a confusing way, and 'Pediatricians' Preparedness for Disasters and Terrorism' as suggested by jpmc26 would have been a clearer construction, but for historical reasons I should prefer to roll back to the original title of my question. 'There is no "pediatric terrorism" and the adjective applies to all that follows' is indeed the answer to my question. Nov 1, 2017 at 14:17
  • hi @EnglishStudent. if you take two random words out of a phrase, they are meaningless. As mentioned, ELL would be a more handy site for such a question. I can appreciate that your question was, actually, along the lines of "what would just the first two words of this title mean" .. but the fact that "and" often "forms a phrase" is so absolutely basic it's difficult to ... whatever
    – Fattie
    Nov 1, 2017 at 14:26
  • I get it now @Fattie. Unfortunately we are used to a certain style of parsing longer phrases, and I am not a native speaker of English. A number of other users noted that putting 'pediatric' before 'terrorism' creates the scope for a false reading, because 'pediatric' is better grouped with 'preparedness', they said. What complicated my reading was the existence of child soldiers and school shootings, so my first mental image was kids with guns and the second image was victims of school terrorism. Nov 1, 2017 at 14:30

2 Answers 2


It's a badly-written phrase, but here, "Pediatric" is modifying "Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness". In other words, it's a site with resources that people involved in pediatrics would find useful in the context of preparedness for disasters and/or terrorism. A better rendering might be "Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness for Pediatricians", "Pediatrician Preparedness for Terrorism and Disasters" (as suggested by jpcm26), or something similar.

  • 7
    Some would probably still misparse that as "Terrorism (and Disaster Preparedness) for Pediatricians". I know I did at first glance. Oct 30, 2017 at 15:15
  • Do not use comments to answer (post an answer instead), praise or rebuke (vote instead), discuss (chat instead), suggest edits (edit instead), or comment on site design or policy (post at meta instead). Use comments to ask for clarification, suggest changes, or offer short-lived information.
    – MetaEd
    Oct 31, 2017 at 21:22
  • say @ethan, I'm not sure if you can really say it is a "badly-written phrase". You're essentially saying, then, "95% of modern English, 98% of American English, and 100% of current business English - is badly written." Treating "long phrases as a single word" is the overwhelming feature of "contemporary" English ...
    – Fattie
    Nov 1, 2017 at 14:13
  • 2
    +1 for explaining the syntax, but your suggested alternatives have the downside that whereas pediatric refers to pediatric medicine in general (hence e.g. "pediatric nurse"), pediatrician refers specifically to a pediatric doctor. So changing the former to the latter would narrow the audience in a way that the authors almost certainly would not want.
    – ruakh
    Nov 1, 2017 at 15:29
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Nov 3, 2017 at 9:18

According to this article, I infer that pediatric terrorism is:

Potential victims of an attack include children who have unique physiologic and psychological vulnerabilities in disasters. Front-line providers need to have adequate training to effectively participate in local planning initiatives and to recognize and treat casualties including children. The goal of the survey was to assess the current state of terrorism preparedness training, including child victims, by emergency medicine, family practice, and pediatric residency programs in the United States and to assess methods of training and barriers to establishing effective training.

Seriously and tragically, children can be turned into warriors. Understanding the Recruitment of Child Soldiers in Africa discusses not only the reasons for the recruitment of child soldiers, but their special susceptibility to being recruited and their effectiveness as soldiers. They are

...cheap to maintain ... and can be psychologically manipulated...

Still puzzling, though, is the question of how children can actually be effective in direct combat, given the fact that they are smaller and physically weaker than adults? Child soldiers are able to take part in combat, due to the widespread and global proliferation of small arms – mainly AK-47 assault rifles, the so-called Kalashnikovs. “[T]echnological improvements in small arms now permit these child recruits to be effective participants in warfare,”15 which makes them almost as dangerous and effective as any adult soldier. Approximately more than 70 million AK-47 rifles have been produced globally since 1947,16 and this weapon “can be easily carried and used to deadly effect by children as young as 10.

However, the article the OP quoted is not about child soldiers, but child victims, although child soldiers are victims too.

  • Thank you and +1 for a detailed and thoughtful answer @ab2 -- I found the title confusing precisely because of child soldiers and school shootings, though I did not include that because I wanted members to approach the question without giving 'leading' ideas. Oct 30, 2017 at 8:30
  • 4
    'Pediatric terrorism' is not a collocation as you imply. Oct 30, 2017 at 9:50
  • 5
    Nice try, but from the context clearly not what the article is about. Oct 30, 2017 at 13:51

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