Fear and anxiety Fear occurs in response to threat and includes cognitive, affective, physiological, behavioural and relational aspects (Barrios and Hartman, 1997; Herbert, 1994; Silverman and Kurtines, 1996). At a cognitive level, an anxiety provoking situation is construed as threatening or dangerous. At an affective level, there are feelings of apprehension and tension. At a physiological level, autonomic arousal occurs so as to prepare the person for confronting or escaping from the threatening situation. With respect to behaviour, the individual may either confront the danger or avoid it. The interpretation of situations as threatening and the patterning of approach or avoidant behaviour are determined by the social context within which they occur and the way the child's response affects members of his or her social network. For children this social network usually includes parents, siblings, schoolteachers and peers.