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Preadolescence and Adolescence, 12 Years Old Through 17 Years Old in Trauma


 Adolescents have great need to appear competent to the world around them, especially to their family and friends. Individuals in this age group are struggling to achieve independence from the family and are torn between the desire for increasing responsibility and the ambivalent wish to maintain the more dependent role of childhood. Frequently, struggles occur with the family, because the peer group seems to have become more important than the parental world to the adolescent child. In the normal course of events, this struggle between adolescents and family plays itself out and depending on the basic relationships between the child and his or her parents, they resolve the trials and problems.

 The effects of a major disaster on adolescents will vary depending on the extent to which it disrupts the functioning of the family and the community. Te impact of the disaster may stimulate fears related to loss of family, peer relationships, school life, and even concern over the intactness of their own bodies. Adolescents struggling to achieve their own identity and independence from the family maybe set back in this personal quest with reactivated fears and anxieties from earlier stages of development. Te trouble signs to watch for in pre-adolescents and adolescents include:  withdrawal and isolation physical complaints (e.g., headaches or stomach pain) depression and sadness antisocial behavior (e.g., stealing, aggressive behavior, or acting out) school problems (e.g., disruptive behavior or avoidance) decline in academic performance sleep disturbances (e.g., withdrawal into heavy sleep, sleep terrors, orsleeplessness) confusion risk taking behavior alcohol and other drug use avoidance of developmentally appropriate separations (e.g., going to camp or college)Most of the above behaviors are transitory and disappear within a short period. When these behaviors persist, they are readily apparent to the family and to teachers who should respond quickly. Teenagers, who appear to be withdrawn and isolate themselves from family and friends, are experiencing emotional difficulties. They may be concealing fears they are afraid to express. Just as many adults do, adolescents often show their emotional distress through physical complaints.

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