The Trauma Lines Blog

Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

Disaster Preparedness: Don’t Forget About the Kids

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The recent natural disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have especially highlighted the need for more preparation and relief efforts designed specifically for children:

In August 2009, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate established a Children’s Working Group responsible for ensuring that the needs of children are addressed and integrated into all disaster planning, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts initiated at the federal level. To help with this effort, the working group partnered with LLIS.gov to create this Children and Disasters resource page, which will help LLIS.gov members understand the need for special recognition of children in emergency planning.

Children make up about 25 percent of the U.S.’s entire population. This portion of our population needs special attention in all facets of disaster preparation and relief. Most notably, disaster relief specialists must prepare for the possibility that a child’s caretaker could be injured or even killed in a disaster. Furthermore, a child’s reaction to trauma is quite different from that of an adult’s. Children are exposed to all the same images and stresses as everyone else following a disaster, and officials are taking great strides to make sure they’re prepared to handle that.

If you recall back in early February, just after the earthquake in Haiti, we wrote a post titled “Earthquake’s Impact on the Haitian Children“:

Some children are overreacting; others have blocked it completely from their minds,” said Norah Salnave of the Haitian Association of Psychologists. “It’s not only the trauma, but a lot have lost their parents, brothers and sisters. That’s a tremendous thing for a child to process.”

In a country where possibilities and opportunities are already vastly limited, the January quake has only made these struggles more profound. These children have experienced the loss of family, gruesome injuries, and displacement from their homes and schools. Experts are concerned that the high number of amputees could make future employment very difficult in a country where manual labor represents a predominant portion of the work force.

Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS.gov) has developed a “one-stop shop for guidance documents, training programs, and lessons learned from exercises and real-world incidents involving children.”

While the documentation they have amassed is quite extensive, they’re still searching for ways to improve their resources:

Please take time to improve your community: submit after-action reports, Practice Notes, Lessons Learned, plans, templates, strategies, and other relevant information.

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Written by traumalines

October 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm

One Response

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  1. […] “Disaster Preparedness: Don’t Forget About the Kids“: The recent natural disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have especially highlighted the need for more preparation and relief efforts designed specifically for children: […]


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