Even the smallest changes to a child’s home, neighborhood, or school environment can cause distress, and extreme flooding like the residents of south Louisiana experienced in August can have lasting ramifications.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has developed a brochure to help children cope with disaster.
The booklet caters to children of all ages, offering suggestions on how to deal with the different ways children are likely to react in the face of a widespread disaster.
According to the brochure, there are some factors that contribute to greater vulnerability, including:
- Direct exposure to the disaster
- This includes being evacuated, seeing injured or dying people, being injured themselves, and feeling that their own lives are threatened.
- Personal loss
- This includes the death or serious injury of a family member, close friend, or family pet.
- On-going stress from the secondary effects of disaster
- This includes temporarily living elsewhere, losing contact with their friends and neighbors, losing things that are important to them, parental job loss, and the financial costs of reestablishing their previous living conditions.
- Prior exposure to disaster or other traumatic event.
While children under the age of six may become more irritable and clingy, children between the ages of seven and 10 may become confused after hearing conflicting stories from their friends and classmates, and teenagers may lash out in risky or reckless ways.
These behaviors call for a variety of responses, which are outlined in the brochure.