Empirical Research

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 850-862

First online:

Adolescents’ Mental Health Outcomes According to Different Types of Exposure to Ongoing Terror Attacks

  • Orna Braun-LewensohnAffiliated withVrije Universiteit BrusselConflict Resolution Program, Department of General Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev Email author 
  • , Smadar Celestin-WestreichAffiliated withVrije Universiteit Brussel
  • , Leon-Patrice CelestinAffiliated withHôpital Simone Veil
  • , Dominique VertéAffiliated withVrije Universiteit Brussel
  • , Ingrid Ponjaert-KristoffersenAffiliated withVrije Universiteit Brussel

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This study investigates the impact of several types of exposure to terror attacks on adolescents’ psychological outcomes in the context of ongoing terror. A total of 913 adolescents (51% girls) aged 12 to 18 years (12–13.6 = 33%; 13.7–15.6 = 38%; 15.7–18 = 28%) took part in the study. Detailed data were collected concerning objective, subjective and “mixed” types of exposure to terror, as well as demographics, post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), emotional and behavioral problems and overall psychological and psychiatric difficulties. Subjective exposure was found to be the most important contributor to adolescents’ post-traumatic stress and other mental health problems in this context. Gender also had important effects. The effects of objective and mixed types of exposure, as well as age, were less prominent. We did find, however, that the more adolescents consulted media, the less they experienced behavioral and emotional problems. Given that subjective experiences appear to be the best factor in explaining mental health outcomes when adolescents are confronted with persistent terror, the cognitive and emotional dynamics along with the coping behavior linked to such experiences merit further investigation.


Terror Adolescents Exposure Cognitions Emotions Mental health Post traumatic stress