04 October 2009

Child's Reaction After the Disaster

Child Hanging-on
Tropical Storm Ondoy (International name Ketsana), which brought the worst flooding in four decades to Manila and nearby areas, has also left 42 people missing with over 3.07 million affected. The death toll of 293 is up from 277 given on 1 October 2009.

More than 419,000 people are still crammed into 526 makeshift evacuation centres, the office of civil defense said, even as the country braces itself for the approaching Super Typhoon Pepeng (International name Parma), which is expected to hit early on 3 October 2009.

Among those who are badly affected by the disaster brought about by storms and typhoons are children. At present, there are thousands that are receiving relief aid from the evacuation centers. But monetary and food assistance are not enough. Children who experienced disaster and suffered trauma as a result need more than that. They need guidance and advise from their parents and mature adults as they try to rebuild their lives and cope with a disastrous experience.

To assist parents and adults deal with the impact on children, here are a couple of observations on the possible reaction of children who experienced disaster which was compiled by Robin H. Gurwitch, Ph.D. and Jane F. Silovsky, Ph.D. from the Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
  1. Feelings of anxiety, fears, and worries about safety of self and others (more clingy to teacher or parent)

  2. Worries about re-occurrence of violence

  3. Increased levels of distress (whiny, irritable, more "moody")

  4. Changes in behavior:

    • Increased activity level
    • Decreased concentration and/or attention
    • Withdrawal
    • Angry outbursts
    • Aggression
    • Absenteeism

  5. Increased somatic complaints (e.g., headaches, stomachaches, aches and pains)

  6. Changes in school performance

  7. Recreating event (e.g., talking repeatedly about it, "playing" the event)

  8. Increased sensitivity to sounds (e.g., sirens, planes, thunder, backfires, loud
    noises)

  9. Statements and questions about death and dying
In addition, at home parents may see:
  1. Changes in sleep

  2. Changes in appetite

  3. Withdrawal

  4. Lack of interest in usual activities

  5. Increased negative behaviors (e.g., defiance) or emotions (e.g., sadness, fears, anger, worries)

  6. Regression in behaviors (e.g., baby talk, bedwetting, tantrums)

  7. Hate or anger statements