Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 850–862 | Cite as

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

  • Orna Braun-Lewensohn
  • Smadar Celestin-Westreich
  • Leon-Patrice Celestin
  • Dominique Verté
  • Ingrid Ponjaert-Kristoffersen
Empirical Research


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 



A subset of the current findings was communicated at the 2004 World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions. This study was part of a doctoral dissertation conducted by Orna Braun-Lewensohn and supervised by Smadar Celestin-Westreich. This research was supported in part by Doctoral Funds of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. We wish to express our thanks to the adolescents and school administrators who participated in this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Orna Braun-Lewensohn
    • 1
    • 2
  • Smadar Celestin-Westreich
    • 1
  • Leon-Patrice Celestin
    • 3
  • Dominique Verté
    • 1
  • Ingrid Ponjaert-Kristoffersen
    • 1
  1. 1.Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselBelgium
  2. 2.Conflict Resolution Program, Department of General Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesBen Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael
  3. 3.Hôpital Simone VeilParisFrance

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