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The Sense of Identity of Adolescents:

The Life After Disasters

Ella Suzanna

Presented in Malikussaleh International Conference on Multidisciplinary Studies

Lhokseumawe, 26-27 November 2017
Background of The Study
The Impact of the Disasters:
13 years ago Aceh become a
1. About 2,242 children become
concern of most countries around the
orphans (UNICEF, 2005)
world because it went through 2
2. Many of the young survivors
suffered from mental and
1. Extensive political conflict between
emotional problems (Hestiyanti,
Government of Indonesia and
2006; Dawsons, 2011; Hartini,
Free Aceh Movement (GAM) from
3. Some orphans had to live in
2. The Massive earthquake and
orphanage and Islamic Boarding
Tsunami on 26 December 2004
School (pesantren)

Research suggests that experiencing traumatic events can delay the normal developmental process in children, as they
have to accomplish all the developmental tasks in each stage of development whilst they are in traumatic condition (Nader,
Yet, each children has diverse ways in dealing with trauma
Children who have good coping skill along with good social support from their environment will likely to recover faster,
whereas children who have difficulties to manage their trauma will need longer time to recover (Price & Lento, 2001)
Statement of the Problems
The Children are
Adolesccents Now
Development task:
The children survivors Sense of Identity
who were exposed to
armed conflict and The major task of Lack of Study
tsunami 13 years ago Adolescence phase
now become The importance of
is The formation of a Studies about sense
Adolescents/ this study
consistent and clear of identity among
Teenagers and Young sense of identity normal adolescents To investigate the sense of
Adults are countless, Identity of Acehnese
Adolescents - who have lived
whereas studies about under difficult situations (i.e.
it among disaster have no parents, live in
survivors are still very poverty, have past trauma)-
to see how they describe
limited themselves, whether the
trauma issues will still
emerge in their self-
descriptions or not, whether
their identity are different
from the normal
adolescents who have not
gone through the same
traumatic experiences in life
Research Objective Definition of Terms Definition of Terms

To describe the Sense of Identity: Adolescents:

All the attributes that Those who aged
sense of identity
the adolescents eighteen to twenty who
perceive about were exposed to war
themselves related to and tsunami
their experiences in the approximately 12 years
past, present, and ago and are currently
future studying in pesantren

The Research
Research design: the current study employed a qualitative research method to collect and analyzed the

Location: this research was conducted in two pesantren in Banda Aceh and Lhokseumawe
Participants: 18 adolescents (aged 18-20 years old) who live in those two pesantren, who had directly
experienced one or both disasters

Data collection: (1) semi structured interviews with the adolescents, (2) journal entries, and (3) interview with
the school teachers and religious teachers
Result and discussion
Description About Description Future Evaluation of Self
Self Orientation and Others
They describe themselves as Most Adolescents have clear vision about When asked to describe their identity if
being more mature and their goals in the future, which is related to compared to other adolescents, the
independent. their preferred occupation, and they certainly participants in this study stated that they
Means that they are more appear to know how to achieve their goals. are different. They felt different in terms
mature in managing emotions, of knowledge, morality, autonomy,
become more sensitive about The findings in this study support the idea that economic status, and family condition.
the environment, enhance more most participants who have clear picture
positive emotion and behavior, about their future, usually use positive It is interesting how the findings in this
as well as have more life thinking and problem solving coping method if study differ from Harters (2006) study
experiences. they have difficulties (Kroger, 2004) that focused the most influential factor
that contributes to the adolescents self-
They also indicate themselves The adolescents in this study is also found to evaluation is physical appearance.
as independent because they have great sense of religiosity, and have
could manage problems by encouragement by their significant others as Meanwhile, none of the Acehnese
themselves, acomplish many well. This support the previous study which adolescents participated in this study
tasks autonomously and reported that religiosity and spirituality provide mentioned about the importance of
deciding their preference on much contribution to adolescents identity physical appearance in their evaluation
their own formation (Cobb, 2007), and therefore they of self.
have achieved full identity status (Ahmed,
Although they had experienced 2003) Moreover, most of them revealed about
several severe traumatic events how they feel better than other teenagers
(e.g. witnessing parents death, The religious identity is served as a standard at their age. They feel more positive in
enduring war related violence, to select an apropriate occupation in their life terms of having more Islamic knowledge,
drowning in the water), currently and to define what they become in the future. are protected from peers bad influences,
trauma issues is not found to be They will think deeply before making a choice, and having good and polite behavior due
the central to their description of whether the job contradicts or not with the to living in pesantren.
self Islamic way of life
The eighteen participants in this study are the adolescents who are in the process of
developing their self identity like any other adolescents.
But they are not exactly like the ordinary adolescents. They are adolescents who have
gone through several severe traumatic experiences. They have experienced the loss of
parents, the closest family, and other relatives.
They are also adolescents who have to live in limited resources even deprivation. And
they also face other daily hassles as experienced by other young people at their age.
Nevertheless, they are different. Because, they have been able to overcome all the
difficulties they face, although requiring great efforts and through uneven pathways as
Although there are one or two teenagers who feel inadequate, they strive for life and
they do not easily give up.
There are a lot of factors that help them to survive and eventually manage to function
well in life, i.e. a strong belief in God, the feeling of gratitude and thankfulness for
whatever happened to them and continuous encouragement from others around them.
But the most important thing that makes them able to thrive from the hardship is 'hope'.
Hope for parents happiness, hope to have a better life in the future, and hope to be able
to help other young children who are less fortunate than them.
Those kinds of things that make them feel that their identity is different from other
adolescents in the world. This makes them indeed resilient